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Smurfs Beware

By Glenn Collins
Monday, February 14, 2011 | 8:02 AM

 Law enforcement gathered at the old Ford delarship on AL195 in Haleyville to stage "Operation Cupid's Arrow."

Agents, deputies and officers from ABC, District Attorney's Office, Winston County Sheriff's Office and Haleyville, Arley and Lynn police departments spent Saturday afternoon in Haleyville putting a dent in the ephedrine trafficking network.

Three people were arrested Saturday on drug-related charges and two people were taken into custody on failure to appear warrants. The operation ultimately will net 11 charges, with warrants to follow. The forthcoming charges are for illegal manufacturing, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Almost 20 members of law enforcement were involved in the joint operation. Local, county and state paired up in “Operation Cupid's Arrow.” The purpose was to interdict “smurfing.”  “Smurfs” are people who travel around buying medicine with the chemical-content needed for the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

WCSO Narcotics Investigator Wes Brown reiterated a now-familiar mantra from WCSO personnel: “The criminal element is no longer welcome in Winston County.” Brown added, “They need to find somewhere else to go.”

During the operation, undercover personnel spotted suspicious cold medicine purchases at a local retailer, reported it to “spotters” in the parking lot, who identified vehicles to “take-down” teams covering roads away from the store.

The teams made 10 stops and impounded two vehicles. Those arrested on Saturday were all charged with 2nd degree manufacturing and could face bonds of $1 million.

ABC Agent Brian Wiggins said “Every box of ephedrine we take off the street is one less meth cook.” 

This is the third operation in Haleyville in less than a year and the message to “Smurfs” is this: more are planned.

The operation included all, except one, of the ABC district's agents. The Winston County Haz-Mat truck was at the ready. The operation staged from the old Ford dealership on AL195.

Haleyville Police Chief Kyle Reogas and Winston County Sheriff Rick Harris discuss Saturday's "Operation Cupid's Arrow."

Winston County Sheriff Rick Harris said, “It was a day worth doing.” He added, “We're bringing the hammer down on the criminal element in Winston County.”

Posted in News | Crime and Courts