December 11, 2013 | 09:44 AM
Christmas music filled the air at the Harrison County Sheriff's Dept. early yesterday (Tuesday) as at least 26 people from Harrison, Floyd and Clark counties in Indiana and Louisville received — temporarily — shiny silver bracelets and a free ride in a police car just before being processed for various felony drug-related charges as part of Operation NASTIER (Narcotics Apprehension Suppression Through Interdiction Eradication Repeat).
Operation NASTIER was an eight-month narcotics investigation, with a total of 33 warrants being issued. Of those being charged, 26 had taken part in undercover drug transactions.
Not all of the individuals targeted were at home at the time of the sting, but their time is coming, Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye said. He added that some individuals were already incarcerated for other crimes.
In November of last year, Operation NASTI (Narcotics Apprehension Suppression Through Intervention) resulted in almost 20 arrests. Topping the mark of 20 was a goal of HCSD Chief Wayne Kessinger, and the mark of 26 makes NASTIER the largest single-day drug bust in the county's history.
"Next year, if we continue to have people selling drugs in our county, you can bank on Operation NASTIEST coming along," Seelye said.
A briefing started at about 4 a.m., then 40 officers — including detectives, road officers, corrections officers and reserves — hit the streets in teams of two to serve the arrest warrants.
Officer Dennis Asher was among those who took part in the bust, with his first arrest being made just before 5 a.m.
With a reserve officer covering a door on the opposite side of a home near Regina Lane in Corydon, Asher knocked on a door several times before Matthew Hannel appeared and asked who Asher was there to see.
"You," Asher replied. "Open the door."
Groggy-eyed, Hannel opened the door and Asher told him to place his hands behind his back so he could be handcuffed. After presenting the warrant and being given consent to search by Hannel's wife, who Asher said was "extremely, extremely upset" at her husband, Asher looked inside the home for drugs and found none. Later, Hannel was placed in the back of Asher's cruiser and transported to the Harrison County Justice Center for processing.
Asher also arrested Shawn M. Daugherty, who lives along Corydon-Ramsey Road north of Corydon.
On his ride to the Justice Center, Daugherty said he was selling marijuana "for a friend" and received no payment from the friend for the sale. Daugherty, who said he didn't use marijuana, said the transaction took place on the north side of the Old Capitol Centre parking lot.
Most of those arrested were charged with some type of trafficking of a controlled substance, with the drugs being heroin, methamphetamine, pills such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, and marijuana.
"If you are selling drugs in this county, we'll reach out and touch you wherever you are," Seelye said. "Ninety percent of the people in our jail have drug-addiction issues, and that's a driving force in all of our crime. In almost every single instance, drugs and addiction are the driving force in our burglary and robberies and everything else. This impacts every element of crime in our community."
Seelye thanked the many agencies taking part in the operation, including the Harrison County Prosecutor's Office, U.S. Marshals, Crawford County Sheriff's Dept., Lanesville Police Dept. and New Albany Police Dept.
Among those charged as part of NASTIER were:
Randall Ewing, 61, 9500 block of Cross Creek Drive, Greenville;
Jonathon Ewing, 21, 9500 block of Cross Creek Drive, Greenville;
Tyler Ewing, 18, 9500 block of Cross Creek Drive, Greenville;
Judith Hopper, 51, 3700 block of Totten Ford Road, Depauw;
Travis Martin, 18, 12000 block of Main Street, Mauckport;
Richard Skaggs, 23, 8200 block of Clover Valley Road, Ramsey;
Thomas Roberts, 18, 12000 block of Walnut Street, Mauckport;
Kendrick Decker, 23, 500 block of Rocky Meadow Road, New Salisbury;
Brandon Gibson, 22, 100 block of S.R. 62, Corydon;
Randy Arnold, 52, 1400 block of Corydon Ridge Road, Corydon;
Tiffany Patton, 29, 1600 block of Sival Road, Ramsey;
Terry VanFleet Jr., 35, 4400 block Whiskey Run Road, Georgetown;
Walter Davis, 48, 600 block of Lost Creek Road, New Salisbury;
Michael Williams, 38, 4000 block of John Arthur Road, Palmyra;
Wanda Shain, 78, 1300 block of Regina Lane, Corydon;
Tracy Reynolds, 43, 2900 block of Fifth Street, English;
Tracie Alday, 51, 3900 block of McClure Road, Leavenworth;
Matthew Hannel, 28, 1300 block of Regina Lane, Corydon;
Terry Pulley Jr., 23, 1800 block of Brown Cunningham Road, Corydon;
James Schaffer, 62, 4600 block of Creekside Drive, Greenville;
Shawn Daugherty, 24, 4100 of Corydon-Ramsey Road, Corydon;
Carrie Wisman, 35, 2000 block of Fourth Street, New Middletown;
William Berkley, 36, 3000 block of Crandall-Lanesville Road, Lanesville; and
Brett Timberlake, 23, 400 block of Lemmon Street, Corydon.
Other arrests are pending, and some charged as part of NASTIER were already incarcerated, Seelye said.
Everyone arrested has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.