‘Operation Busy Bee’ nets 46 arrests connected to Stokes County drug delivery system

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STOKES COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — In an attempt to deter individuals from delivering and distributing illegal narcotics in the Piedmont Triad, the Stokes County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of other agencies, put 46 individuals behind bars and seized hundreds of grams of drugs from neighborhoods.

The operation, which began in the Fall of 2020, involved Stokes County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security, Surry County Sheriff’s Office, NC Probation and Parole, Pilot Mountain Police Department, Mt. Airy Police Department, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Surry County Sheriff’s Office, Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, Davie County Sheriff’s Office, and King Police Department.

Roughly 415 grams of meth, 28 grams of heroin, 87 grams of cocaine, 1255 grams of marijuana, illegal mushrooms, oxycodone, Xanax, Adderall, ecstasy, suboxone pills, and four firearms were seized from individuals connected to Stokes County.

“We have a problem. No matter where it’s from, we’ve got a problem. It’s evident, and it’s reaching our rural communities,” Stokes County Sheriff Joey Lemons said.

Operation Busy Bee did not focus on personal owners, but rather those who operate on a medium to high-level operation. That includes those who traffic large quantities across state lines, or who operate stash houses.

At a news conference on Thursday, Lemons described how the county has to partner with other agencies, due to the level of demand in the Piedmont Triad.

Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page, who was also in attendance said, “We have to reduce the demand and we have cut off the supplies, it starts at our borders.”

The Triad has quickly become a “hub” for drug traffickers due to the direct routes from Mexico, and Florida, to the Northeast, and to Los Angeles.

Roughly 90 percent of the drugs seized are from outside the state.

“If someone is moving fentanyl, and meth, it’s coming from the cartel,” Page said.

Lemon echoed that notion, and said, “none of our meth arrests were tied to the manufacturing of meth, so it’s coming from elsewhere.”

Forsyth County drug task force agents have also begun to see this trend. Cpt. J.L. Koontz, explained, “Meth is on the rise, we have a large amount of meth being found here in our county and the surrounding counties.”

The county’s drug task force was formed toward the beginning of Operation Busy Bee. The force provided resources, information, and potential suspects connected to the operation.

“It’s not just the fact of the users, it’s the fact that the person selling the drugs, theft, murders, domestic assaults – all of this ties into the drug trade,” Cpt. J.L. Koontz said. “The trick is to your team to work with outside agencies and pass the information along. If we end with a case here, that doesn’t mean the case is finished. We have to keep certain things close to the vest. It may go to another county or another state.”

His task force, along with the other agencies, doesn’t just look to eradicate the issue, but to also stop a process called the “Hydra Effect.” It’s when other dealers attempt to move in where a previous dealer operated before being put behind bars.

“When you identify a target, you are working to identify that subject, and you are also working to identify those below them. The person that is going to come up and take his place . . . It’s about knowing your people and passing around information.”

Operation Busy Bee is expected to lead to more arrests and prosecutions in the coming weeks and months.

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