Rain wasn’t the only thing coming down in Madison County on Wednesday morning.
Officers from five law enforcement agencies swept through London, West Jefferson and outlying communities with warrants to arrest 31 suspected drug dealers and users.
Law enforcement officials initially expected to pick up as many as 34 people, based on recent developments.
“Operation Bases Loaded” topped a four-month investigation by the Madison County Drug Task Force into the illegal sale of prescription painkillers, cocaine and most significantly — heroin. Some charges also involved weapons violations.
The county grand jury handed down indictments involving 91 criminal offenses on July 16.
Beginning at 7:15 a.m., teams of deputy U.S. Marshals, Madison County Sheriff’s deputies, agents of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and officers from the London and West Jefferson police departments fanned out across central Ohio with paperwork in hand.
Three London addresses were special targets: 18 Antietam Ave., 87 Antietam Ave. and 291-A Bowman Ct.
London police officers secured a perimeter around Antietam Avenue as deputy marshals knocked on apartment doors and cuffed those found inside. Similar precautions were taken at Bowman Court near Center Street.
Police chief Dave Wiseman said most arrested on Wednesday were London residents.
Lt. Eric Semler of the task force said suspects from Fayette, Clark, Delaware and Franklin counties were also on the arrest list.
By 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 24 were in custody.
Those arrested in London on drug trafficking charges were:
* Alisha Gonzalez, 22, 87 Antietam Ave.
* Ashley Davis, 28, 18 Antietam Ave.
* Ashley Taylor, 26, 291-A Bowman Ct.
* Cathy Kelly, 42, 87 Antietam Ave.
* Jamie Rice, 27, 18 Antietam Ave.
* Joeleen May, 32, 109 S. Oak St.
* Joseph Hamilton, 36, 18 Antietam Ave.
* Tisha Kelly, 28, 769 U.S. 42, Lot 43
* Shelly Ray, 32, 230 S. Oak St.
* Timothy Davidson, 32, 109 S. Oak St.
* Danielle Martin, 30, 89 W. Second St.
* Joel Salyer, 31, 3675 Wood Lane
* Joseph Johnson, 35, 118 Markley Rd.
* Joseph Meyers, 31, 219 S. Main St.
Corey Rice, 29, 245 Washington Ave., was charged with drug possession.
West Jefferson police nabbed Joshua Ramey, 37, of 69 Twin St.; William Pratt, 24, 209 Parkdale Ave. and Michael Eisel, 29, 155 Danbury Rd. All are charged with trafficking drugs.
Ashley McQuirt, 26, already jailed at Tri-County on theft and burglary charges, was served with a new warrant for trafficking.
Rachel Davis, 25, 8565 Smith-Calhoun Rd., Plain City, was arrested and charged with permitting drug abuse.
Those arrested from outside the county were:
Delaware residents Michael Garrett, 28, 2225 Delta Ave., and Zachary Allen, 22, 222 Curtis St. Both are charged with drug trafficking. Garrett is also facing multiple weapons and drug possession charges.
West Jefferson officers arrested Allen after a brief foot chase in the parking lot of Doctors West Hospital in Columbus. He had hypodermic needles and suspected heroin on his person, police chief Terry Ward said.
Thomas Greathouse, 978 Duke Rd., Whitehall, and Michael Cloud, 27, Washington Court House, were also arrested on trafficking charges.
“Operation Bases Loaded” represents the latest in ongoing efforts by law enforcement to curb opiate dealing in the county.
“Three years ago, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and the London Police Department combined resources and efforts…to investigate drug trafficking throughout Madison County,” a sheriff’s press release said. “Officers from the West Jefferson and Plain City police departments have also provided assistance in the task force.”
Task force investigations have resulted in hundreds of criminal charges over the years, the release noted.
Stay with The Madison Press, the only media outlet on the scene Wednesday, as more information becomes available.