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Carter County Sheriff's Department takes cue from Hollywood

By Kyle Benjamin, kbenjamin@wcyb.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 05:01:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 11 2013 05:02:49 PM CDT
carterschoolsdrugbust
CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. -

When Sheriff Chris Mathes took office in 2006, he vowed to get drugs off the streets in Carter County. In the summer of 2012, Mathes began discussions with other community leaders to develop a way to root out drugs in county high schools.

It started with a Facebook page. A girl named Hannah Reagan said she was moving to Carter County and would be starting school in the fall.

Operation Jump Street was born. "This operation affected all of our county schools," said Mathes. "We had contact with kids from each high school at some point during the investigation."

"Hannah" is a Carter County deputy who went undercover as a high school student. "She basically went back to school. She took a full course load as if she was as senior. She went to class and did her school work," Mathes said during a press conference.

The undercover deputy had no ties to Carter County. She didn't go to school there, and was not a native of the area.

The ten-month operation led to 14 arrests. Nine students and five adults face charges. Operation Jump Street also led to the confiscation of two cars, 10 firearms and various drugs.

Mathes said marijuana, Tylox and Suboxone were all found. Tylox is a narcotic used as a painkiller. Suboxone is used to treat opiate addiction.

Carter County director of schools Dr. Kevin Ward was in on the operation from day one. "As a school system, our first priority is safe and drug free schools," says Ward. "You have to have that first and foremost before you being the process of educating your students the way you need to."

Ward tells News 5 WCYB the school system isn't messing around when it comes to drug use. "We will not tolerate drugs in our schools and we will very aggressively pursue at whatever means we have to, to root them out," he said.