Mugshot Gallery: Operation Who's Next, Round 1 nets 17 arrests

WNCT Staff - BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) - Seventeen people are in custody thanks to a new local campaign from the Carteret County Sheriff's Office.

Operation Who's Next is a joint drug enforcement campaign coordinated by the Carteret County Sheriff's Office, the Morehead City Police Department and the district attorney's office. It targets suspects engaged in illegal drug sales in Carteret County.

Over 100 drug dealers have been targeted and 17 suspects have been arrested.

GALLERY: Operation Who's Next, Round 1

Sheriff Asa Buck said "Over the coming weeks we will continue making arrests. Just like during "Operation Pill Crusher" people will be wondering; who's next? We want every drug dealer in the County to ask the question; Who's Next? Am I next? When I ran for Sheriff I knocked on 5,000 doors to get this job and we'll "knock on" or "knock down" as many doors as it takes to combat drug crime and keep our community safe. I very much appreciate the great working relationship with Chief Morris and the Morehead City Police Department and the strong stance District Attorney Thomas has taken in prosecuting these cases. This is and remains a tremendous team effort."

Chief Bernette Morris said "The crippling costs of drug crime can be seen throughout the criminal justice system. In addition, family disintegration, unemployment, domestic violence, and child abuse are associated with drug abuse and I feel by pooling resources and personnel, our task force can cover a larger area and directly impact the drug war."

District Attorney Scott Thomas said, "Sheriff Buck, Chief Morris and I are pleased to announce 'Operation Who's Next' in Carteret County. This most recent undercover drug operation is a continuation of our ongoing efforts to fight illegal drug activity. It represents a coordinated effort led by the Carteret County Sheriff's Office, Morehead City Police and the District Attorney's Office. These arrests demonstrate our proactive efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute accused drug dealers and users. Many indictments have already been obtained and the offenders have been arrested and are now in the county jail. We will be filing additional charges for more suspects in the coming weeks. These cases are a high priority in my office and we will be prosecuting in an effective manner.   I have assigned Assistant District Attorney David Spence to work with law enforcement officers as these cases are prepared for court. We will evaluate each case and proceed based upon the defendant's alleged conduct and prior criminal record. Our goal is to see a substantial reduction of illegal drug activity in Carteret County."

Operation Who's Next follows last years' very successful campaign titled "Operation Pill Crusher." That operation saw the arrest of over 100 drug dealers and resulted in substantial active prison sentences and periods of probation. The Sheriff and District Attorney say they plan to release a final report on "Operation Pill Crusher" at a later date.

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