Over 30 people were arrested on drug charges by a number of police agencies, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Riply Police Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In a series of arrests in mid-June, people throughout the Ripley area were targeted for arrest. On June 7, 19 people were arrested in the early hours of the morning, and 4 were already in police custody. Police said on June 11 that they were still seeking another 8 people as part of their investigation.
The police agencies said that over the past year, they had engaged in an intensive drug investigation that included the purchase and sale of illegal drugs. Among the drugs involved in the local trade were crack cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription pills. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation stated that its operation was focused on drug sales in both large and small quantities, saying that drug dealing had been detrimental to the rural areas of the state. In addition, police officials said that heavy prosecution of drug crimes was a local priority.
The people who were arrested were taken to the Lauderdale County Jail and have been accused of drug charges such as delivery of illegal drugs in relatively small amounts, including a number of people charged with cocaine delivery of less than .5 grams. Many of the people arrested also had drug-free zone enhancements added to the charges against them as the alleged sales took place near a school or other protected area.
State agencies have emphasized their interest in heavy prosecution of drug crimes, even for low-level offenders. A criminal defense lawyer may be essential for people facing drug charges in order to present a defense before trial and in the courtroom, including challenging police practices and evidence collection.