HAZARD — An undercover drug investigation centered around a recently closed pawn shop in Eastern Kentucky has led to the arrests of six people, an Operation UNITE official announced Friday.
Detectives from UNITE, the federal anti-drug initiative, along with officers from local police agencies in Perry County, arrested the suspects Thursday and searched three homes near Johnny's Pawn Shop in Bulan in Perry County.
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They seized a small quantity of Percocet, hydrocodone and Suboxone.
Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for UNITE, which covers 29 counties in Eastern and Southern Kentucky, said undercover agents bought drugs from the pawn shop.
The owner of the shop, Johnny Ray Bryant, 44, was among those arrested. Bryant is charged with two counts of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, OxyContin.
The investigation was part of Operation Hot Spots, which focuses on specific areas with a high concentration of drug trafficking, Smoot said.
He said officials seek first to reclaim drug-infested neighborhoods by eliminating dealers, then to empower residents with information and resources needed to keep their neighborhoods drug-free.
Previous Hot Spot enforcement efforts have been in Busy, Yerkes and Willard in Perry County.
Others in the pawn shop investigation who were charged with trafficking in a controlled substance were Fred Caudill, 46, Darrell Jones, 50, and Robert L. Jones, 51, all of Bulan; James “Hippie” Long, 30, of Hardburly, and Brian J. Morris, 32, of Busy.