PIKEVILLE, KY (WOWK) — After a year of investigations, Pikeville police officers gathered just before sunrise to bring their plan to light.

“Today, we’re not looking for the people walking around with it in their pocket, we are looking for the people selling it. We’re looking for the people that are causing people to overdose,” Pikeville Police Department Lt. Chad Branham said.

The Pikeville Police Department allowed 13 News to ride along with their officers as they arrested 17 suspected drug dealers and served around 30 warrants in the community on Tuesday.

“We’re dealing with the worst of the worst drugs you can deal with. Today, all these indictments are based around methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl,” Branham said.

In a press release from the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, 2,250 Kentuckians died from an overdose in 2021. They say this is a 14.5% increase from 2020.

It says around 70% of all overdose deaths in Kentucky were due to the increased use of fentanyl. “The widespread availability of potent inexpensive methamphetamine,” is also to blame for the increase.

They say more than 107,000 overdose deaths were reported in the U.S. from December 2020 to December 2021.

“A lot of these people are going to be well known on the street to people in their neighborhood and it’s going to be a big relief to these people. They are going to feel safer about their kids playing in the street,” Branham said.

Branham found his first suspect with drugs sitting outside of her apartment in her car, just about a block away from Dorton Elementary School.

Many officers shared the same sentiment that this work was rewarding. They say they are doing exactly what residents want, getting drugs off the street.

Branham says, “When you ask the community what they want nipped in the bud, so to speak, more than anything, they say the drug epidemic because everything around here and probably most other places stems from drug activity.”

They say the work does not stop here. Branham says they hope to get another drug dealer roundup later on.

“It don’t stop here. There will be another one of these before long and we just like the community to know that because somebody’s going to take these people’s place while they’re incarcerated. Those people will be the next ones we are hooking up,” Branham said.