Athens Police Arrest More Than 30, Expect More

ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) — More than 30 people are in jail as a result of a six month undercover operation.

Athens police are calling it Operation Harvest Festival. They say they have been watching and making undercover sales from drug dealers for six months, and Saturday marked the end of the operation. Officers served 95 arrest warrants, and as of Sunday afternoon, they arrested 31 people. There were still looking for 12 more at that time.

Officers recovered guns, eight thousand dollars in cash, cell phones, and various drugs. They say they found some of those drugs disguised in a hair spray bottle.

Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson says  with everyone in the department working they started serving warrants early Saturday morning. “Everyone that has been arrested or had a search warrant on today has been known to us for quite a while,” Chief Johnson says.

He says  the operation stems from their recognition of a drug problem in Athens. “We do have issues and it’s our job to correct that, we’ve only scratched the surface here,” Chief Johnson says.

Chief Johnson says the main issue in Athens, as with many cities, is prescription drug abuse.

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks says this operation is a good start in making Athens a safer place to live for its residents. “This is just the beginning of our efforts to stop this activity,” Mayor Marks says.

Chief Johnson says the operation was necessary but it cost taxpayers money. He says he’s going to work so they don’t have to pay it. “We’re going to ask for money back from the offenders,” Chief Johnson says.

He says operations like this one are a task the entire department takes very seriously.   “You look at why we’re doing it and where’s our drug problem, it goes back to those children, it goes back to those families, it goes back to how can we serve the community, and this is one of the ways we need to be looking at doing it.”

Officers say they’re still looking for several more people who are wanted as a result of this operation.

They also say while they were serving warrants they rescued a malnourished dog. It is currently being treated.

Athens Police have already started their next undercover operation.