COVINGTON - A Kenton County judge told nearly 40 alleged drug dealers that people are dying every day because of them.
Judge Ken Easterling's courtroom was nearly filled to capacity Friday morning as 36 alleged drug dealers collectively facing more than 100 counts of trafficking waited for their bonds to be handed down.
It took nearly two hours for Easterling to set bond for every accused dealer, but early on, he made it clear he wasn't taking any excuses.
"I have, multiple times, said that heroin is killing people in the community. People are dying every day and you are charged with giving that instrument to kill themselves. So it's very serious to me," said Easterling.
Authorities rounded up the suspected dealers Thursday after hitting the streets with arrest warrants. They searched for known drug dealers wanted for trafficking heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription pain killers, among other drugs.
The Covington Police Department made the arrests with the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration and air support from the Kentucky National Guard.
Kenton County Attorney's Office Chief Prosecutor Chuck Vaughn says the arrests are an attempt to put an end to a growing problem in Northern Kentucky.
"Heroin is an epidemic in Kenton County and really all over the tri-state. It seems like we see people coming in arrested with heroin, cocaine charges regularly," he said.
Vaughn says with the help of the Covington Police Department and other police agencies in Kenton County, his office is actively trying to stop the drug trade in the area.
"This was a round up really to make a statement so the community would know how much is going on as it trickles in a couple a day, this makes more of a statement so the community will know and the drug dealers will know we're watching, we're trying to get you, we're trying to put a stop to it."
One man collected an additional charge while in court Friday. Zebulun Jones is being held in contempt of court for his outburst in front of Eastering. Jones yelled he'd rather go back to jail than wait for his turn in front of the judge.
The majority of the suspected dealers returned to jail Friday on a $10,000 bond.
Police still have several unserved warrants for known drug dealers in Kenton County. They'll be looking for the suspects this weekend.