August 6, 2004 at 7:20 PM CDT - Updated July 12 at 9:16 AM
August 5, 2004 -- Posted at 2:48 p.m. CDT
POPLAR BLUFF -- Southeast Missouri is one of the leading parts of the state for drugs, but law enforcement is working to change that.
Some residents in Butler County got a rude awakening Friday morning.
"We had a combined effort between Poplar Bluff Police Department, Butler County Sheriff's Department, the Highway Patrol and SEMO Drug Task Force," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Kevin Glaser.
Teams of law enforcement personnel gathered at 6 a.m. at the Poplar Bluff Police Department before they started on the countywide raid.Officers were given warrants and sent to different areas of Butler County.
"We've actually been working a variety of different investigations for the past year. This is kind of the combination of that investigation or those investigations. We had a grand jury, Poplar Bluff convened a grand jury and we presented those cases to the grand jury and they returned indictments on all the people that are being arrested Friday morning," said Glazer, head of the SEMO Drug Task Force.
And for some, it was an early wake up call. Law enforcement in Butler County issued 57 warrants for arrest. While they weren't able to pick up every single person on that list, they were able to bust a working meth lab.
"Missouri is leading the nation in lab seizures, not necessarily lab production, but lab seizures which is a strong indicator of just how much illegal activity is going on regarding particularly methamphetamine," said Glaser.
Most of the people on the pickup list had been in trouble with the law before, many on drug related charges.
Glaser said, "The investigations have been ongoing for about a year, so a lot of the individuals are a little bit bewildered about why they're being arrested, and a lot don't remember the specific incident they're being charged with."
Teams of law enforcement made their rounds through the county, picking up folks wanted for arrest.
Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whiteley said, "All the teams have been getting well over half their people and it's been a real smooth operation so far."
"We don't anticipate getting all 57. We seldom do on these types of operations. People move away, they change addresses. Some of them are a little bit hard to locate sometimes. We'll probably get about 50% of that 57 and that's a pretty good sweep," said Glaser.
And for those who weren't arrested Friday, Glaser expects it won't take long to track them down.
"Hopefully, this will curtail the illegal activity in this area for a while. I mean, that's our ultimate goal is to take some of the people who are manufacturing and selling these products and get them off the streets," said Glaser.
Bonds set for those arrested ranged between $25,000 and $50,000 dollars.