Adrian McCarty
Greenwood County narcotics agents spread their nets and made 34 arrests this week as part of a two-county drug roundup.
The Drug Enforcement Unit, a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force composed of Greenwood Police officers and Greenwood County deputies, spearheaded the sting operation, and was assisted by Laurens County deputies. The roundup, which was code named "Operation Blocked-Up," began Tuesday and ran into Wednesday night. The bulk of the arrests came Thursday, however, when officers swarmed into several residences across Greenwood and Laurens counties seeking to serve arrests warrants. 

"It was a very successful day in taking some drug dealers as well as users off the streets," Greenwood DEU Commander Brandon Strickland said. "It's a serious problem, and we are continuing to treat meth and these other things seriously because it's an epidemic in our area."
DEU officials said the sweep originated as agents set out to serve a total of about 60 warrants this week for individuals who have exceeded the purchasing limits on Sudafed and other decongestants. Sudafed contains pseudoephedrine, a precursor chemical needed to cook methamphetamine. Federal guidelines prohibit anyone from purchasing more than nine grams in a 30-day period, and the state instituted a program in 2011 to allow law enforcement to monitor purchasing behaviors. Those who attempt to buy more than the allowable amount of pseudoephedrine-laced products within the allotted time are prohibited from doing so and placed on a "block list." That led DEU officials to coin Thursday's roundup Operation Blocked-Up. 
Agents began the arrests Tuesday night when they apprehended a Greenwood mother whose child tested positive for marijuana. Two other women were booked on counts of unlawful neglect to a child after officers served more warrants Wednesday. A third woman was arrested for contributing drugs to a 15-year-old. 
Officers nabbed 25 people who exceeded their Sudafed purchasing limits Thursday, and made five additional crack cocaine and marijuana distribution arrests. Agents also stumbled upon three meth labs while serving the drug conspiracy warrants, including a massive lab in Waterloo in which officers seized more than 70 bottles of "shake and bake" meth bottles. Officials said it was one of the largest amounts of meth they had ever seized. 
Officials indicated the sting operation is ongoing as agents are expected to serve additional arrests warrants in multiple counties.
"Sheriff (Tony) Davis sees the problems and lets us attack them," Strickland said. "These types of cases have definitely become a problem. And when he knows the problems and lets us handle them accordingly, that definitely helps the situation."