Drug Bust

Oct 21, 2011 3:33 PM

Johnson County Drug Investigation Leads To 16 Warrants

An Operation UNITE investigation into the illegal sale of prescription pills in Johnson County has resulted in the indictment of 16 people - including three members of a West Van Lear family.

The indictments were the result of information obtained through undercover efforts that began early this year. Cases involved the diversion of a variety of pills including Oxycodone, Percocet, Hydrocodone and Lorcet.

Law enforcement officials attempted to serve most of the arrest warrants during a roundup held Friday.

"I think it went very well," said Johnson County Sheriff Dwayne Price, noting the value of inter-agency cooperation in building the drug cases.

"The drug problem is too difficult for any one agency to handle by themselves," Price stated. "We need every agency we can get, plus help from the public. We encourage people to call about any suspicious activity, no matter how trivial it may seem, because it may match up with something else."

Three people were charged Thursday afternoon after UNITE detectives and Johnson County deputies served a search warrant at the South Burglar Road residence of 56-year-old Robert Page, his 48-year-old wife Billie Page, and their 29-year-old son Robbie Page.

During the search police discovered approximately 100 pills of various sorts and $18,800 in cash. A 1994 Harley-Davidson motorcycle believed to have been purchased from the proceeds of drug sales was seized.

UNITE had been investigating this family for about four months.

"We were aided by information called in to our drug tip line (1-866-424-4382) by concerned citizens," said Dan Smoot, deputy director of UNITE.

Robert Page was charged with two counts of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and one count of second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

Billie Page was charged with two counts of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

Robbie Page was charged with one count of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

"There will be additional charges against this family," Smoot noted.

In addition to the Pages, six of those sought Friday had been arrested as of 2 p.m. They include:

• Mile Eldridge, age 38, of Pine Street, Paintsville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Michael Green, 24, of 6th Street, Paintsville, one count each first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Melissa Rife, age 44, of KY 40, Oil Springs, two counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• James Smith, age 45, of KY 40-West, one count each of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Ollie Whitt, age 27, of KY 40, Oil Springs, one count first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Larry Williams, age 44, of KY 302, Van Lear, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and persistent felony offender.

Assisting with Friday's roundup were officers from the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, Paintsville Police Department and Floyd County Sheriff's Office. All of those arrested were lodged in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center.

Police are continuing their search for the remaining seven suspects.

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