Sheriff sweeping pills out of Polk

Published 9:42 am Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Christian Herbert Reith (left) and Dwayne Dennis Forney. (photos submitted)

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has begun making arrests in what has been a nine-month operation called “Operation Pill Sweep.”
Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill said his office began serving search warrants and making arrests a couple of weeks ago in what will be approximately two dozen trafficking level prescription medication cases, several felony marijuana cases and several trafficking level cocaine cases. Hill said he expects to arrest more than 20 people over the next eight weeks and that number could grow.
The sheriff’s office has focused on prescription medication, but is also making arrests for other drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine.
So far, the sheriff’s office has arrested Christian Herbert Reith, 31, of 285 Marcellina, Fairview and Dwayne Dennis Forney, 31, of 26 Peake St., Tryon. Reith was charged with three counts of misdemeanor child abuse, three counts of possession of marijuana with intent to sell and deliver and three counts of maintaining a vehicle for transporting, according to sheriff’s office reports.
Forney was charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to sheriff’s reports.
Operation Pill Sweep is an undercover operation targeting individuals selling large amounts (trafficking levels) of prescription medications in Polk County, Hill said.
The operation has been jointly managed over the past nine months by the sheriff’s office and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). The agencies have worked with a special agent with the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs Office, as well as the Spartanburg County and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Offices. Hill said in his years working in Polk County he cannot remember another operation of this magnitude ever having been undertaken.
“Prescription medication is one of the biggest problems in Polk County,” said Hill.
Hill said he is tired of responding to overdoses due to prescription medication and he is offering no negotiations in these cases. He said prescription medication use is big among young people.
“If I was someone in Polk County and I knew I’d sold pills in the last nine months, I’d be freaking out, thinking I’d be the next one,” said Hill. “There’s no negotiation. I’ve made that clear and will prosecute. I’m sick of the pills.”
Hill said undercover officers have purchased an array of drugs in the operation, including marijuana, cocaine and painkillers such as oxycodone, oxycontin, Percocet, lortab, hydrocodone and Xanax.
“People don’t understand the drug problem we have in Polk County,” said Hill. “Some of the reason we have such a problem is that we’re a small, rural county that is spread out and we don’t have the manpower and the drug dealers know that. But, with this operation we put a dent in the problem and have taken some noted players off the street. I hurt the supply and the availability.”
Hill said his office has seized two vehicles so far and has purchased an estimated 2,000 prescription pills.
He said the people selling them vary in age, ethnicity, social status and occupation. Several are veterans, he said, which is why the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs is involved. Hill said the warrants range from offenses such as veterans and other people selling their own prescribed medication to people who purchase pills and resell them.
Hill said he anticipates making one to two arrests per week over the next week or so.
Look for more coverage in the Bulletin as arrests are made in Operation Pill Sweep.

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