CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. - A local sheriff's department has arrested more than a dozen people as part of a drug round-up operation.
"It's become a subculture. It's become an epidemic," said Sheriff Chris Mathes talking the meth problem in Carter County. "These people are killing themselves and killing communities."
The sheriff's department is cracking down on the meth community as part of their drug round-up named Operation Street Sweep. "We're targeting anybody that we can find that's got anything to do with the purchase of the precursors or trafficking meth," Mathes said.
The grand jury indicted 30 people on various meth charges on November 13. Deputies went out Wednesday night from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. looking to arrest 30 people. They found about 18 of the wanted people on the list. "A lot of these folks do know each other, but its part of the meth society -- who can get product, who can get batteries, who can put it all together and cook," said Mathes.
But deputies found more than just the indicted suspects, they also found three fresh meth labs: one in Elizabethton on Chambers Hollow Road, one on Hampton Creek Road and one on Shell Creek Road in the Roan Mountain community.
Mathes said they targeted that area and the Hampton community. "Primarily that's where a lot of these folks resided and did their deals," he said.
Mathes said a lot of the information and intelligence deputies are getting about meth labs is coming from the people living in the neighborhoods where there is drug activity. "We get tons of phone calls from the community reporting the heavy traffic and what's going on," he said.
He hopes the pseudoephedrine laws continue to help police track those who purchase the drug to make meth. "These labs are correlated very strongly with people that are buying," he said.
Of the 30 indictments, nine people are from Elizabethton, eight people are from Roan Mountain, seven people from Hampton, three from North Carolina and one person is from Johnson City.