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Authorities arrest 22 in massive Butts Co. drug sweep

Authorities detain a suspect Wednesday while executing a search warrant at a house on West College Street in Jackson. Nearly two dozen suspects authorities accuse of dealing narcotics were arrested in what investigators dubbed "Operation Double Cross." (Staff Photo: Michael Davis)

Authorities detain a suspect Wednesday while executing a search warrant at a house on West College Street in Jackson. Nearly two dozen suspects authorities accuse of dealing narcotics were arrested in what investigators dubbed "Operation Double Cross." (Staff Photo: Michael Davis)

Butts County authorities on Wednesday led a sweeping narcotics round-up, simultaneously serving nine search warrants and arresting 22 people in what may be the largest law enforcement mobilization in Butts County history.

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Members of the Georgia State Patrol's SWAT team secure the scene as authorities search a home on West College Street in Jackson as part of "Operation Double Cross." Roughly 100 law enforcement officers from a dozen different agencies participated in the operation. (Staff Photo: Michael Davis)

In a dragnet dubbed "Operation Double Cross," led by the Butts County Sheriff's Office narcotics unit, authorities set out to arrest nearly 30 suspects with a combined force of roughly 100 law enforcement officers from multiple local, state and federal agencies.

Butts County Sheriff Gary Long said the focus of the operation was mid-level drug dealers particularly in an area in Jackson known as Crosstown. Warrants were also served in Jenkinsburg, other areas of Jackson and in Flovilla.

Authorities initially set out to take 27 people into custody Wednesday on roughly 80 arrest warrants. The operation began with search warrants being served just before 6 p.m. After the initial searches and arrests, law enforcement teams hit the streets to track down nearly a dozen remaining suspects.

By the time the crackdown came to a close around 9 p.m. Wednesday, 22 suspects had been arrested with more arrests expected in the coming days.

"We're going to continue to investigate drug crimes in this county relentlessly," said Butts County Sheriff's Sgt. Darrell Powers, commander of the narcotics unit.

Long said the operation had been in the works since mid-May and would not have been possible without the cooperation of a host of supporting law enforcement agencies. It was the second large-scale drug round-up this year, the first having netted 20 arrests.

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Members of the Georgia State Patrol's SWAT team enter a home on West College Street during the drug sweep Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Michael Davis)

The agencies involved included the sheriff's offices of Butts, Lamar, Monroe, Jasper and Taliaferro counties, the Flint Circuit Drug Task Force out of Henry County, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia State Patrol, the Towaliga Circuit District Attorney's Office and the Jackson Police Department.

Authorities said those arrested in the sweep are being charged with multiple counts of narcotics sales in cases involving undercover agents and confidential informants. Long noted that investigators have evidence of multiple drug purchases from each suspect.

While one Jackson woman was evaluated by medics after a scare when authorities stormed her neighbor's town home, no other incidents were reported in the operation.

A complete list of the names of those arrested in the operation and the charges against them was not immediately available Wednesday evening.