20 people arrested in 'Operation March Madness' drug investigation

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LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Update 10:00 p.m.

Before the officials March Madness kicks off this month, an unofficial on is happening now in Laurel County.

It is called Operation March Madness and it has nothing to do with basketball.

Instead, it is an undercover drug investigation that has already lead to the arrest of 20 people, all Monday morning.

"Every three months here we try to have a round-up based on a three-month undercover investigation where our undercover detectives go in and make buys", said Gilbert Acciardo of the Laurel County Sheriff's Office.

Whether it is trafficking in a controlled substance or conspiracy to distribute, just about all the charges revolve around one drug.

"In Laurel County, our problem is meth and Suboxone and pills, meth primarily", said Acciardo.

Five arrested are charged with federal crimes. Because of the that, Acciardo says deputies are gaining substantial ground in the local war on drugs.

"That's a level up. When we take any case federally, that's a level up", said Acciardo. "So we're actually getting somebody besides the street level dealer."

And rather than advice, he offers a warning.

"If you deal in drugs, especially meth and the problem drugs that we have in Laurel County, you're going to get caught", said Acciardo.

There are 12 more people deputies have arrest warrants for that have not been arrested at this time.


The Laurel County Sheriff's office had a county-wide drug roundup Monday morning and came back with 20 suspects.

After a three-month undercover investigation, deputies were ready to arrest 26 people on state and federal drug trafficking and possession charges. They called the roundup "Operation March Madness".

Three teams went out with warrants. They found 14 of the intended suspects, along with two people they arrested on other charges along the way. Four other people were arrested overnight on drug charges, bringing the roundup's total to 20 people.

The 14 suspects arrested on warrants are:

- Megan Lynn Hill, 25, of Gray, charged with meth trafficking.
- Barbara J. Masters, 50, of Gray, charged with meth trafficking.
- Johnny Robert Eads, 46, of Gray, charged with meth trafficking.
- Charles L. Hensley, 38, of Corbin, charged with meth trafficking.
- Joshua Leslie Cox, 35, of Woodbine, charged with meth trafficking.
- Nancy Ann Salyer, 34, of Rock Hold, charged with meth trafficking.
- Brandi Jo Miller, 33, of East Bernstadt, charged with meth trafficking.
- Stephanie Allen, 36, of London, charged with meth trafficking.
- Susan Brewer, 38, of Woollum, charged with meth trafficking.
- Johnny Craig Sasser, 54, of Lily, charged on a federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute meth.
- George Griffey, 35, of Keavy, charged on a federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute meth.
- James Woods charged on a federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute meth.
- Peggy Hoskins charged on a federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute meth.
- Ronnie Caldwell charged on a federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute meth.

During the roundup, deputies arrested Lela Jean Snellings, 54, of Keavy on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. They also found Elbert Lee McFadden, 43, of London with meth in his possession as they rounded up the other suspects.

Overnight, the sheriff's office arrested:

- Robert W. McWhorter, 37, of East Bernstadt, on drug possession along with a bench warrant of arrest on multiple traffic violations.
- Steven D. Messer, 40, of Gray, on meth trafficking and possession of drug paraphernalia.
- Lee S. Saylor, 43, of London, charged with possession of meth and drug paraphernalia and public intoxication.
- Travis Lamonz Cannon, 38, of London, charged with heroin possession.

Sheriff John Root said these arrests emphasized his promise to fight the "War on Drugs".

Barbara Masters

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