HAZEN, Ark. (KTHV) - More than 20 people were arrested in Prairie County Monday morning for drug involvement.
Prairie County Sheriff's Department partnered with several local law enforcement agencies for Operation Joint Effort and seized narcotics, guns and stolen items.
"We started about 4:30 this morning," Sheriff Gary Burnett of Prairie County explains.
Chief Bradley Taylor of Hazen Police Department says, "We've been prepping for about 2 weeks for this operation. We knew it was coming to an end it's been a year and a half long investigation."
Operation Joint Effort was an investigation in Prairie County that ended with nearly 30 drug-related arrests and the seizure of narcotics, guns and various stolen items. "It makes a very big impact on the community. I mean you take off five or six people, it starts wiping down your drug population," Taylor says.
Making dozens arrests helps get rid of a large percentage of the drug population in Prairie County, but once they brought them to the Hazen Community Center for booking, they realized they were faced with another challenge: where to put all these people.
"We're limited on jail space," Taylor explains. The Prairie County Jail is the only detention facility in the county and currently can only hold 22 inmates, which means these suspects will have to wait for officers to find a nearby facility that has room. Taylor says, "They've got a few beds available so we'll take this many beds now, this many beds later."
Meanwhile, law enforcement is hoping to get a new facility within the next year to avoid another situation like this one. Taylor says, "We're trying to get a sales tax passed through the county to build us a new jail that will add 50 beds to what we have now and that will help out tremendously."
Extra space that will allow them to continue cleaning up their county, while sending a message that there is no tolerance for drugs.