Law enforcement officials from multiple agencies arrested 28 people in a roundup in Brownwood Thursday morning following a two-year investigation into crack cocaine trafficking.
Lawmen are seeking five additional suspects in the investigation, dubbed “Operation Family Plan” because the suspects have ties to three families. Investigators said they believe those families are members of a “tight-knit” narcotics organization.
“Fair warning — this is not the last time this is going to happen,” Brownwood Police Chief Virgil Cowin said at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Law Enforcement Center.
All 28 of those arrested were expected to remain overnight in the Brown County Jail, Brown County Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said. Names of the those arrested were not immediately released.
“I think it would be fair to say they’re having a family reunion right now,” Brownwood police narcotics detective Bruce Spruill said.
Crack cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy tablets, cash and 10 vehicles were seized in the roundup, and CPS officials took custody of several children ranging from 4 months to 15 years old, sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Aaron said.
The defendants were named in sealed grand jury indictments charging them with the distribution of crack cocaine, Grubbs and Brownwood Police Chief Virgil Cowin said in a press release. Numerous search warrants, patrol arrests, and arrest warrants led to “inside information” on the organization, which investigators believe was involved in “street-level and mid-level sales of crack cocaine,” the release said.
“It’s a major roundup — one that we’re proud of,” Grubbs said. “ We don’t have amounts at this time. We’re still calculating what we’ve got. We’ve still got officers on the streets hunting other defendants. We’re not actually through yet.
“We’re particularly proud of the fact that it was done safely without anyone getting hurt to defendants or officers. It came about without any major incidents. It was planned well and executed well,” Grubbs said.
About 85 law enforcement officials from local, state and federal agencies started the roundup around 5 a.m. and executed 10 search warrants, the press release said. The officers were aided by a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter and four K-9 units.
Narcotics and patrol officers with the sheriff’s office, police department and West Central Texas Interlocal Crime Task Force have been investigating crack cocaine trafficking, and numerous search warrants, patrol arrests and arrest warrants led to the “inside information of this organization,” the release said.
No one was injured in the arrests, but there were “a lotta hurt feelings — a lotta hurt feelings,” Cowin said.
Aaron said one factor that sparked the investigation was information officers received while investigating methamphetamine trafficking. Cowin said another factor was officers’ awareness of “open-air” drug markets in the “flats” section of town.
Despite numerous drug-related arrests in Brown County, Grubbs said he doesn’t think the county has a drug problem that is worse than any other county.
Aaron said, “I try to not focus on the fact that we’ve got a bigger narcotics problem. Maybe it’s we’re working as proactive law enforcement to address it. I’m not trying to say that other counties are not doing that as well, but we’re aggressively approaching the narcotics problem. We’re going to continue to do that and … we’re going to keep doing this. It works. It has a good impact and these guys — it keeps them on the run.”
During the investigation, numerous undercover purchases of drugs were made, the release said. Investigators targeted suspects with undercover and surveillance operations.
Agencies involved were Brown County Sheriff’s Office, Brownwood Police Department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)-Dallas Field Division, West Central Texas Inter Local Crime Task Force, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms-Lubbock Field Division, Texas Department of Public Safety —Texas Rangers, Aircraft Section in Midland, Motor Vehicle Theft and Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Brown County District Attorney’s Office, Brown County Adult Probation Office, Early Police Department, Comanche County Sheriff’s Office and Cisco Police Department-Canine Officer.