Local narcotics officers delivered a punishing blow to an alleged network of armed and dangerous dope dealers Wednesday, beginning with a predawn roundup of dozens of suspects caught in a 10-month-long sting operation, according to Glynn County Police Chief John Powell.
Spearheaded by the Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team, Operation Déjà Vu resulted in 58 arrest warrants issued against alleged dope dealers throughout Glynn County and Brunswick, Powell said. In addition, GBNET officers seized large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, THC wax, cocaine, prescription pills, the hallucinogenic/stimulant Molly and marijuana, Powell said.
Additionally, investigators confiscated 39 firearms, six vehicles and nearly $40,000 in cash, Powell said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the county police department, 157 Public Safety Boulevard. At that time, GBNET officers had rounded up 27 of those wanted on warrants; officers were still busy serving warrants into the afternoon, Powell said.
“I am extremely impressed with the hard work and dedication the men and women assigned to the Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team exhibit each day,” Powell said. “They truly care about the residents of the City of Brunswick and Glynn County, and about the negative impacts narcotics have on this community.”
Numerous county, state and federal law enforcement agencies assisted GBNET, which consists of Glynn County and Brunswick police officers. The Glynn County Sheriff’s Office participated, as well as the Darien Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Explosives, and the FBI. Additionally, the Georgia State Patrol and the Kentucky National Guard offered aerial surveillance.
Powell said the U.S. Attorney’s Office will assist in prosecuting, indicating the suspects may also face federal charges.
Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones said the culmination of Operation Déjà Vu represents a significant blow against overall crime in the area.
“It’s not just about drugs,” Jones said. “The arrests made today reach a whole lot further. The guns taken off the street stop drive-by shootings. The criminals taken off the street, and the users, helps us stop the burglaries in our community. Stopping the ones that sell the drugs, that supply the drugs, is very important. But it also helps us in many ways to reduce the crime in our community.”
Although GBNET officers seized an array of illegal drugs, meth distribution fueled the majority of the dope-dealing network’s operations, said Glynn County Police Lt. Eugene Smith. Because of previous large-scale crackdowns on meth in past years, little if any meth is presently produced within the county, he said. The highly-addicted and physically-deteriorating drug is brought in from outside production labs, ranging from Atlanta to Waycross, he said.
So-named because many of those caught in the sting have previously been arrested locally for drug-dealing, Operation Déjà Vu began in January and wrapped up in last month, Powell said. Smith added that those dealing drugs in Glynn County will see GBNET officers again.
“This is not going to be our last drug roundup, and it’s definitely not the first,” said Smith, assistant commander of GBNET. “If there’s drugs out there, we’re going to take them off the streets.”
A large poster board beside Powell at the podium featured mugshot photos of each suspect who was issued a warrant in the operation. Powell urged those suspects who have not already been rounded up to turn themselves in.
“If you know you’re on that list and have a warrant, go ahead and turn yourself in – because we will find you,” Powell said.
Powell praised the multi-agency effort. The number of firearms seized serves as testament to the risks incurred by officers who participated in the undercover operation, he said.
“It’s inherently dangerous because you’re dealing with narcotics, and they have weapons and they are going to protect their trade and also going to try to protect themselves,” Powell said. “We all work together. The boundary lines don’t stop the bad guys from doing their business, and we don’t let the boundary lines stop us from doing our business.”