Local law enforcement officers on Monday arrested 20 people on drug-related charges.
The arrests were part of an operation that was months in the making, said Charles Bowen, chief of the Selma Police Department, which led the operation.
“It was an undercover campaign that we did for probably three or four months involving undercover drug buys,” he said.
Police charged 25 people with 367 crimes, Bowen said. Twenty of those people were arrested Monday. “It ranged from selling crack cocaine to prescription pills,” he said. Also on the illicit list were marijuana and methamphetamines, the chief said.
Bowen said nothing specific prompted the drug roundup, which he described as standard procedure in Selma. “It’s something we try to do a couple times a year,” he said.
The amount of prison time each person will face depends on the individual situation, Bowen said. Some first-offenders could get off with just probation, while repeat offenders could be facing years in prison. The chief said he hoped drug users arrested on Monday would receive court-ordered treatment.
Bowen said the drugs involved are dangerous because they are very addictive. “It destroys families,” he said. “It causes people to do crime to get the drugs.”
District Attorney Susan Doyle said she usually assigns a team of prosecutors to try defendants in a drug roundup. Even so, the amount of time before trial could be anywhere from a month to a year, she said.
“If you wait for the (State Bureau of Investigations) to analyze the drugs, they have a huge backlog; it could be even a year or more,” Doyle said.
Multiple agencies took part in the arrests, including the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments in Smithfield, Princeton and Kenly.
“From my perspective,” Bowen said, “as long as drugs are being sold in Selma, we’ll continue these types of operations.”