GAINESVILLE - Hall County drug investigators say they've rounded up more than 20 low to mid-level drugs users and dealers in their latest undercover operation, and they expect more will be jailed soon.
Lt. Scott Ware with Hall County's Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (MANS) said agents spent the last four months targeting suspected drug criminals all across Hall County. An undercover agent traveled the county making drug buys, according to Ware.
"Ranging from the middle of the city from the south side of town to the extreme northeast up to Lula near the Habersham County line," said Ware.
Ware said Thursday's round up, dubbed Operation Jingle Jail, initially targeted 30 suspects.
As of 1:00 p.m., 14 of the original 30 suspects along with eight other suspected criminals who happened to at the arrest sites, had been jailed.
While photos of the suspects were displayed at a press conference Thursday afternoon, Ware said a list of the suspects would not be released, since many of them were still at large.
Investigators with both the Hall County Sheriff's Department and the Gainesville Police Department joined with MANS officers in this latest crackdown on the county's drug users and dealers.
Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic said he hoped county residents would see the work that investigators had done and would understand that law enforcement is serious about eliminating drug use and trafficking.
"When you have larger scale operations like this...it gives visibility to the kind of work they've [investigators] been doing that the community might not always see," said Cronic. "Plus, when you have a large operation like this, it sends a strong message out to the people involved with illegal narcotics and distribution that operations like this will occur."
Gainesville Police Chief Brian Kelly was also at Thursday's press conference and noted that the problem of illegal drug use encompasses all areas of Hall County.
"Drug use, drug sales are not selective in who they affect," said Kelly. "You have individuals from all walks of life, all races and ethnicities, all backgrounds, and if they make that poor decision to get involved in either a life of using or trafficking narcotics, then these...are the ultimate consequences in the choices they make."