Dozens of people were arrested Wednesday in a widespread drug bust that involved multiple law enforcement agencies in three counties.
Sixty-two people have been arrested as of Thursday afternoon ? and another 21 were being sought with arrest warrants ? in an ongoing major drug sweep that was coordinated by the Brown County Sheriff?s Office but involved several cooperating law enforcement agencies, including Coleman and Mills counties.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, authorities plastered a wall with several dozen photos of suspects arrested thus far in the far-reaching operation. By the time all the arrests are complete, authorities expect to have 83 arrests and 110 charges filed.
Ten suspects were either out of the area or out of the state, and another 10 suspects were considered in the area but hadn't been arrested yet.
Brown County Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said he considered the operation a success ? even before the arrests have been completed.
"I'm well-pleased and would label it as a success even now," Grubbs said. "I feel it has put a major impact on these criminals. If we keep hitting these people, maybe they will get the message ? and they'll start thinning out."
The investigation began a year ago and came to be known as "Operation Smorgasbord," Brown County Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said. He said the investigation was so named because of the wide range of drugs being trafficked by the suspects that were targeted.
Several of those arrested were prescription drug suppliers and/or abusers, Grubbs said, but some of the defendants trafficked drugs such as meth, marijuana, ecstasy and heroin.
Several of those arrested, Grubbs said, were involved in network of fraudulent prescriptions, doctor shopping or surrogates who fraudulently obtained prescriptions for Hydrocodone, Xanax or Oxycodone.
Once filled, the prescriptions would be diverted or sold to mostly street-level abusers and young people, Grubbs said.
The investigation expanded to include Medicare and Medicaid fraud, Grubbs said, when it was discovered that some of the prescriptions were financed and obtained through Medicare and Medicaid and sold along with other illicit drugs such as meth, cocaine and marijuana.
Grubbs said officers used a number of investigative strategies, including undercover, surveillance, technology and criminal debriefings to create a list of targeted suspects.
Grubbs said more than 70 law enforcement officers from 17 law enforcement agencies participated in the serving of arrest warrants beginning about 7 a.m. Wednesday in Brown, Mills and Coleman counties.
The original target list contained 79 targeted individuals, but in the process of making the arrests, officers found and arrested four additional people on seven drug-related offenses.
The arresting officers also received assistance from Child Protective Services in a couple cases where the arrest of parents would have left children unattended.
The lead law enforcement agency was the Brown County Sheriff's Office, but active investigative cooperation came from Brownwood Police, Early Police, Mills County Sheriff's Office, Coleman County Sheriff's Office and the Brown County district attorney.
Grubbs said many individuals from these agencies invested a great deal of hard work in the investigation.
The investigation is ongoing, he said, adding that the cooperating agencies would "continue with our ongoing and cooperative efforts to target drug violators with professional and aggressive criminal law enforcement."
Agencies involved in the Wednesday roundup, in addition to those mentioned above, included: Texas Parks and Wildlife, Brown County Constables Office, Brown County Adult Probation, Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, Bangs Police, Santa Anna Police, Coleman Police, Lake Brownwood Lake Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers.
You can see the mugshots of those arrested and/or targeted here: The Drug Bust Lineup