WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A lengthy investigation has taken dangerous drugs off the streets of Jefferson County and targeted the dealers. It’s a sigh of relief for officials helping people with substance abuse problems.
After two years and a combined effort of state, Jefferson County, and Watertown law enforcement, a drug investigation dubbed Operation Heat Wave is bearing results.
54 people have been arrested, 46 from the county.
In addition, thousands of dollars worth of cocaine, heroine, fentanyl, and opioids have been seized.
That’s good news to Alliance For Better Communities Program Director Anita Seefried-Brown.
Her coalition helps combat underage drinking and substance abuse.
“It was a fantastic day for our community. It was a fantastic day for all the law enforcement officials involved in this incredibly successful operation,” she said.
But Seefried-Brown says the celebration comes with mixed emotions.
“That initial impression was tempered by how much destruction these folks have brought on our community,” she said.
According to Jefferson County Public Health Planner Stephen Jennings, there have been more than 220 overdoses in the county this year - and a record 27 of those have been fatal.
Jennings says the drug bust could slow the growth of these figures.
“Certainly it’s going to disrupt activity that was happening out there. It probably saved some lives for a period of time,” he said.
Both Jennings and Seefried-Brown say they expect drug activity to pick up in the future.
But Jennings says he hopes some use the investigation as a wake up call.
“This is an opportunity for folks who are using substances to seek treatment, seek help,” he said.
Law enforcement officials thank community organizations like Watertown International Airport, and the county’s District Attorney Office for their help in Operation Heat Wave.