Law enforcement agencies go after street-level drugs

75 people arrested in 6-month-long sweep

KINGMAN - Local law enforcement agencies announced Wednesday the arrest of 75 people in Mohave County during a six-month operation that targeted street-level drug dealers.

Thirty-nine of those people are Kingman residents. They face a combined 88 counts for sale of dangerous drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Thirty of those 39 face charges of selling marijuana, and 13 face charges of selling narcotic drugs, such as morphine, hydrocodone, methadone and oxycontin. The investigation, dubbed "Kingman Sweep" in Kingman, "Operation Summer Heat" in Lake Havasu City and "Operation Spring Cleaning" in Bullhead City, was a countywide effort coordinated by the Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Taskforce.

The Kingman, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu police departments, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration also aided in the investigation and arrests. In addition to the 39 Kingman residents arrested, 10 Bullhead City and 21 Lake Havasu residents face charges in connection with the operation.

Others from Las Vegas and Meadview were also arrested.

Kingman Police Chief Robert DeVries said the arrests are the result of undercover buys, police informants and other investigations. He said that at least one major drug network was broken up as a result of the police effort.

The other suspects are characterized as street-level dealers. Several of the individuals arrested in Kingman were also arrested in Bullhead City, which DeVries said demonstrates that the problem must be tackled countywide.

"These individuals don't know any boundaries," he said.

Officials said the drug-sweep is similar to Magnet's Operation Picture Perfect, which recently wrapped up its prosecution of the last of the 18 defendants in custody two weeks ago. Two men found guilty during their trials fled before sentencing and are still wanted by police.

Operation Picture Perfect involved a single drug network said to have brought in more than 500 pounds of methamphetamine a year in to the community. By contrast, DeVries said this combined tri-city operation netted a smaller quantity of drugs.

"It's not a high volume, but it is a high impact to the neighborhood," he said.

The operations were funded by a "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area" grant from the DEA, which representative Terry Azbill said is awarded to agencies in which investigations have an impact beyond their respective communities.

Police said more arrests are forthcoming. More than a dozen of the suspects have already been indicted by a grand jury, meaning enough evidence was presented to bring the cases to trial.