The list of suspected drug dealers is long, but law enforcement officers in Brunswick County say they're working to change that. Early Tuesday morning, nearly 50 deputies and officers took to the streets to round up more than 80 suspected drug dealers for Operation First Step, the first step in an eight month long undercover investigation to combat street level drug activity. Sheriff John Ingram said, "The officers have put a lot of time and effort into this. We just want the public to know that we are out there and we are addressing these concerns and issues and I assure you there will be a step two." The officers went to areas where, over an eight month period, undercover agents purchased over $25,000 worth of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and prescription pills. One after another, each suspected drug dealer was issued and arrest warrant and loaded in the back of a squad car. Many of those arrested were repeat offenders. According to Sheriff Ingram, "We view the street level narcotics activity just as important as people moving kilos of cocaine through the county." By daylight Tuesday, more than 30 suspects were in custody. Sheriff Ingram said he has heard enough complaints from his community and is sending a message to those who commit drug crimes. Stop or risk the jail time. "The Sheriff's Office is going to do all that we can to deter this activity and make this community safer for these children." The Sheriff's Office is working closely with the District Attorney's Office along with the jail to make sure they can handle the influx of people arrested. The Brunswick County Sheriff's Department credits the community for helping with Operation First Step.
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