Forty-nine people are charged with drug-related offenses after a five-month investigation conducted by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
As of 3 p.m. Thursday, 24 of them had been taken into custody.
“I think any law enforcement agency is proud when we can go out there and conduct an operation where we see these kind of results,” Sheriff Jim Hammond said Thursday at a press conference.
In total, there were 96 indictments issued against the 49 people, who were generally unacquainted and were accused of either selling or using illegal narcotics, Hammond said.
The narcotics included hydrocodone, oxycodone, roxycodone, methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, Xanax and marijuana, he said.
Six teams totaling between 20 and 30 officers started searching for the suspects at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Hammond said, adding there was no particular reason why the arrests started then.
The suspects were located in Birchwood, Brainerd, East Brainerd, Georgetown, Hixson, Lookout Valley, Ooltewah, Sale Creek, Signal Mountain and Soddy-Daisy and along Highway 58.
As word began to spread of the arrests, he said, some suspects called police before being tracked down.
“Several of the individuals wanted to make arrangements to turn themselves in,” Hammond said.
He said he wasn’t aware of any instances of resisting arrest from the suspects.
The operation to accrue the charges and arrests was “very time-consuming,” the sheriff said.
“Anytime you run this kind of operation, at a minimum you usually tie up four to six months,” he said.
Though this particular operation was conducted solely by sheriff’s office, Hammond said he sometimes works with Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd to organize mass crime roundups.
The two departments work together “all the time,” said Jerri Weary, a Chattanooga police spokeswoman.
“Right now, our crime suppression units have combined. We do our fugitive roundup on a quarterly basis,” she said. “It’s an ongoing thing.”
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