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NEPHI -- Sheriff's deputies arrested nearly two dozen suspects in a massive roundup of drug dealers Wednesday in central Utah.
This roundup of suspects was in the planning stages for months. The goal was 29 arrests.
Within two hours, officers picked up 23 people accused of selling drugs. Each suspect, deputies say, had sold drugs to an undercover officer.
"The people we are looking at today are drug dealers. They sell -- they're not just users -- they are sellers of drugs, and we want give them the resources to get that out of their lives," said Sanpete County Sheriff Kevin Holman.
The first stop for the Sanpete-Juab Drug Task Force led them to a trailer park in Nephi. The suspects were surprised to see officers quickly surround them.
One suspect on the task force's list was arrested, along with two others found to be in possession of drugs and paraphernalia.
"This car belongs to a mother with children, and in this car we've located a bunch of syringes, drug paraphernalia, some drugs and a glass pipe," Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme told KSL News. "It's heartwrenching to think of those little kids in a car with those kind of items."
The next stop took officers to a home, where a man suspected of dealing heroin and cocaine was awakened by police. He was arrested on a warrant for distributing drugs.
The sting even took down the owner of a business on Nephi's Main Street. Deputies say the owner was selling prescription drugs right out of his auto parts store.
"There's hardly a family that isn't touched by this," Orme said. "It's a brother or a family or mother. There isn't hardly a family that isn't touched by substance abuse."
The roundup is a joint effort between the Juab County and Sanpete County sheriff's offices, which have teamed up to fight drugs in their counties. Each has a small department, but together they now have five officers working full time to battle drugs in their rural counties.
In the past, many drug offenses in the counties may have been overlooked because of a lack of resources, but the sheriffs say the days of getting away with selling drugs in central Utah are over.
"If they are going to sell drugs to kids and other people, this is the consequence. You are going to be arrested and put in the criminal justice system," said Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme.
Of the 29 suspects targeted Wednesday, they are accused of a total of 115 felony drug charges. The arrests, the sheriffs hope, will cause drug users to stop and think.
"Hopefully, this is something that can come out of this, as well as these folks and communities have a safer environment for their kids to grow up in and hopefully have a successful life," Holman said.
In addition to Wednesday's roundup, the task force already made arrests in Sanpete County. In all, since August, 62 people have been arrested in the two counties.
Deputies are still looking for the other six suspects. They say a few of them may have moved out of state.