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Community watch group forms in Appalachia to fight illegal drug epidemic

Residents of Appalachia say drug abuse is so rampant, they are making self-protection high priority. They are organizing a community watch and patrol program. (K. Roberts, WCYB)

Citizens in one Wise County town are not leaving their safety to chance. Residents of Appalachia say drug abuse is so rampant, they are making self-protection high priority. They are organizing a community watch and patrol program.

The residents say they want their town back from the illegal drugs plaguing their community.

"We saw people walking the street with backpacks, more people hanging out in known drug locations. I actually saw drug deals," Dennis McClain said. McClain is one of more than 40 citizens who has been active in the community watch program.

The program is just getting off the ground. Town members have held safety meetings and town hall meetings in development of the program. The members will rove on foot and in cars to report suspicious activity to police.

"We have come up with plans to help the people who wanted to be help and to eradicate the problem otherwise," McClain said.

Town council member Travis Anderson is in full support. He has been instrumental in organizing the group.

"The residents are stepping up to the plate and leading in this as well and saying 'Enough is a enough.' We want our peaceful, quiet little town back," Anderson said.

Anderson is also Appalachia Fire Department's Deputy Fire and EMS Chief. He said most calls for help are drug-related.

"60 to 70 percent of our EMS calls that we run here per month are drug-related," Anderson said.

Their efforts are getting a boost with law enforcement announcing Operation Appalachia Action, a crackdown on illegal drug possession and sales.

"The meth epidemic has taken root here," Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said.

30 people were indicted as part of the 15-month investigation.

"It takes constant action to disrupt this type of behavior," Slemp said.

More than half of those charged in the indictments have been arrested so far.

Those indicted include:

1. Sherry N. Pierce, 39, of Appalachia - 3 counts of Distributing Schedule III controlled substances(Buprenorphine)

2. Dorothea V. Mitchell, 55 of Appalachia - 1 count of Distributing a Schedule II controlled substance(Methamphetamine)

3. Kelsey B. Miller, 24 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of Distributing a Schedule II controlled substance(Methamphetamine) & 1 Count of conspiracy to Distribute a Schedule II controlled substance Methamphetamine

4. Robin R. Boggs, 54 of Appalachia- 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance(Methamphetamine)

5. Joshua S. Carroll, 28 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

6. Jamie L. Christian, 38 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing s Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

7. Richard A. Krovich, 48 of Appalachia - 2 counts of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

8. Jeffrey T. Lawson, 40 of Appalachia - 2 counts of distributing s Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

9. Garfield D. Mullins, 55 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule I controlled substance (Synthetic Cannabinoid)

10. Jonathan A. Rollins, 36 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

11. Princeton E. Smith, 27 of Big Stone Gap -1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance(Methamphetamine)

12. Daniel Wagers, 26 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule III controlled substance (Buprenorphine)

13. Holden T. Burke, 26 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule III(Buprenorphine) controlled substance, 1count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)& 1 count of conspiracy to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

14. Kimberly D. Wiseman, 58 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule III controlled substance (Buprenorphine)

15. Brian K. Baldwin, 39 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

16. Jessica R. Carroll, 32 of Appalachia -1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

17. Christy M. Doffermyer, 38 of Big Stone Gap - 2 counts of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine & Cocaine)

18. Kevin Hodnett, 29 of Appalachia - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

19. Jamie C. Jessee, 39 of Appalachia - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance & 1 count of conspiracy to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

20. Trevor L. Johnson, 26 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

21. Timothy A. McMahan, Jr., 26 of Appalachia - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

22. Casey R. Reed, 26 of Appalachia - 1 count of distributing an imitation Schedule II controlled substance & 1 count of distributing an imitation Schedule II controlled substance near a school

23. Keith E. Ritchie, 56 of Appalachia - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance ( Methamphetamine)

24. William K. Sargent, 42 of Appalachia - 3 counts of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

25. Michael R. Turner, 30 of Appalachia - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

26. Brett M. Bowers, 26 of Appalachia - 2 counts of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

27. Steven L. Hess, 24 of Big Stone Gap - 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

28. Terrence J. Poole, 44 of Big Stone Gap – 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance(Oxycodone) & 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance near a school (Oxycodone)

29. Chad Allen Garrett, 35 of Keokee – 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

30. Dillan Arthur Robinette, 26 of Big Stone Gap– 1 count of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance (Methamphetamine)

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