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October 6, 2016 • Headline News
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Biggest drug sweep in county in 20 years

Mary Mattingly

The biggest drug sweep in two decades occurred Tuesday, Oct. 4 when 29 warrants were issued from Ripley County and included a four county area.
Local authorities were targeting the “smurfs” a drug term referring to the people who supply the manufacturers with the ingredients to make methamphetamine. The thinking by law enforcement and the county prosecutors is that by arresting these suspects, it can at least make it harder for manufacturers to make the meth. Thirteen of the warrants were issued for people who lived in Holton, Milan, Osgood, and Versailles, and the others were for the surrounding area, such as Greensburg, Madison, and Dearborn and Switzerland counties."

Ripley County drug bust

Left, Billy Shaw of Versailles was taken to jail by Ripley County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Hunger.

At an 11 a.m. press conference just before the 30 officers were dispersed to serve the warrants, Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel said, “This is the most extensive, exhaustive investigation and arrest we will have made in the last two decades in the county.” Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard and Ripley County Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth were also on hand and part of the team effort in the investigation.

By the end of the day, 23 of the 29 warrants were served, and those arrested were booked into the Ripley County Jail, or sent to nearby jails depending on where they were arrested. Cumberworth told Ripley Publishing Wednesday morning the 100 bed jail was full with 118 inmates as a result of the arrests.

All but two of the sealed warrants were for the unlawful sale of precursors to manufacturing methamphetamine, a Level 6 felony. “Indiana has been No. 1 or 2 in making meth in the last five years, and top five in the last 10 years. These are significant problems we deal with in the state of Indiana,” Hertel said. The other two warrants were for higher level felonies and involved dealing meth.

The investigation actually began six months ago. Eight arrests for manufacturing meth were made in Versailles in late July. With further electronic surveillance and researching pharmacy pseudoephedrine logs the prosecutor had enough information to present to the judge for a warrant. “We waited until we had the best case to present to Superior Court Judge Jeff Sharp.” Hertel emphasized one thing that was unique with this drug bust, besides the scope of it, was the collaborative effort with many agencies including Ripley County and Switzerland County Sheriff’s Offices, Versailles, Osgood, and Holton police departments, Greensburg police, and the Indiana State Police special crimes unit. Hertel commented, “We can put aside egos and work for the common good as we were hired or elected to do.”

The local Dept. of Child Services was made aware of the drug sweep since there may be children in some homes that need to be cared for if their guardians are arrested. While serving one warrant outside the county, an active meth lab was discovered. Four children were also at the residence, Cumberworth reported. Marijuana was also uncovered in Decatur County when a warrant was served at another residence.

Tuesday morning, about 25 officers, some in undercover dress and others in uniform, divided into teams. The media, which included crews from Cincinnati TV stations, was allowed to follow but had to be careful to not identify the undercover agents. Hertel commented at the press conference held at the Versailles Fire Station, “There’s a lot of talk on the war on drugs and that we have failed. Well I don’t see any white flags waving in this room. We are not ready to concede. This sent a message to 27 people that we are not ready to throw in the towel.”

Teams make arrests
Gathering his team, Versailles Marshal Joe Mann, deputy Alex Hafft and Ripley Co. Deputy Adam Hunger served a warrant on two people, Billy and Chailley Shaw at an apartment near Pangburn Park. Upon entering, Mann recognized a resident. They did not resist, but as Billy Shaw was being taken to the squad car he claimed he didn’t know why, and said, “I didn’t do anything.”

Read the entire story, as well as a list of names and addresses, in The Versailles Republican dated October 6.

Versailles rural carrier ending career after 39 years

After 39 years and over a million miles on the road, Lloyd Smith retired as a rural mail carrier for the Versailles Post Office. Friday, Sept. 30 was his last day. Smith’s daily route covers 82 miles and 400 customers, but he’s never once hit a mailbox or had a wreck on the job. He admits he has once off the job . . . when he was 18 years old but we’ll claim the statue of limitations on that one! The 65-year-old was actually awarded the USPS “Million Mile” pin nine years ago for never having an accident while on the road. Now that’s not to say Smith hasn’t had car trouble. “You have to have a good mechanic and I do. Larry Rayburn has saved me many times. Once he actually towed me so I could finish 15 mailboxes,” he said.

Lloyd Smith’s, pictured left, last day as a rural carrier for Versailles post office was Sept. 30. He’s been a carrier for 39 years.

His route included Cave Hill Road, the Friendship area and US 421, not exactly straight roads to maneuver in snow and ice. The bad weather doesn’t bother him, but the onslaught of holiday packages does. Actually, since the USPS at Versailles now handles packages for UPS and Fed-X the packages have more than tripled. “I used to have 12 to 15 a day and now it’s 70 to 90 a day,” he said. That can make a mail carrier’s job more difficult, between carrying and delivering these daily. In his four decades on the job, he’s noticed a change in mail. There are few daily newspapers delivered and Christmas cards are way down. He used to cover his entire workspace with cards but now it’s just a few inches.

Although he will miss his co-workers, it’s a good time to retire. He’ll spend more time fishing and hunting, and enjoy his grandchildren as well. “I love the outdoors,” he said. It’s also why he’s been involved in Boy Scouts for years. He likes their mission for youth, but also the outdoors part of it. He’s a union representative for the Versailles American Legion Post with the troops. Smith will also miss the contact with customers. He mentioned that he delivered a social security card to a customer and they noted he had done so for five generations. His customers will have to get used to another carrier.

He said he’ll probably still rise at 5 a.m. and he might still drive his Buick – one of the few cars with a bench front seat instead of bucket seats – from the middle of the seat! “My wife says I tend to lean that way, and she’s saying you’re too close to the mailbox,” he said and laughed. Well, he can’t help it, not after you’ve been driving that way for over hours a day for 39 years! The community and local post office wishes him well in his retirement.

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