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Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Article published December 2, 1990

Police plan more raids on local drug dealers

Spartanburg County police departments will continue to makearrests in Operation Safe Streets, a sweep of drug dealers throughout Spartanburg County, but state and federal agencies will no longer be involved. The eight-month undercover operation in which State Law Enforcement Division narcotics officers bought drugs from the suspects, resulted in 256 indictments. Since Wednesday, 120 suspects have been arrested on various drug distribution charges and 10 automobiles were confiscated. County and municipal police departments will continue a scaled-down version of the operation to arrest the remaining 136 suspects. In the first three days of the round-up, officers from the State Law Enforcement Division; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the governor's RAID team; the South Carolina National Guard and the U.S. Marshal's Office Fugitive Apprehension Team were on hand to assist local forces in making arrests and tracking suspects. With those officers gone, manpower will be cut more than half, but local officers say they are no less serious about completing the operation. "Based on citizens' requests for help and our own intelligence information, we recognized the need for a major crackdown on the drug trade," Spartanburg County Sheriff Bill Coffey said. "Instead of using a short-term, reactive approach, we wanted to put together a long-term effort that would take the drug dealers off the streets." The sweep focused on 10 areas of the county and was broken down into three stages. The first night of the operation concentrated on the Greer and Wellford areas. Day two covered areas of Inman, Fairmont, Una and Lakeview Manor. And, last night, raids were conducted in parts of Spartanburg, Arkwright, Woodruff, Camp Croft and Greer. The makeshift jail, set up in the House of Flowers building at the Spartanburg County fairgrounds, will remain open until there is room at the county jail to accommodate the prisoners. So far, only 30 people have been released on bond. "The bonds have been good and there are still a lot of people there," Spartanburg County Sheriff's spokesman Mark Kruea said. "That facility will remain open for as long as it is needed." The number of charges against each person ranges from one to 46, for a total of 896 charges against the 256 suspects. The drug purchases ranged from a few rocks of crack worth about $50 to three and a half ounces of cocaine worth $4,000. The operation was funded by confiscated drug money. The Sheriff's Office estimates that it spent about $2,000 and SLED spent an additional $50,000. "This operation is not over, although we obviously don't have the manpower to continue it on a grand scale," Kruea said. "There are more people to arrest and we are going to keep bringing them in."