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Reaper hits county after Halloween

Reaper hits county after Halloween
Reaper hits county after Halloween
During Operation Reaper early Saturday morning, Deputy Marty McClanahan shows seized paraphernalia to Chief Wayne Kessinger of the Harrison County Sheriff's Dept. Photo by Alan Stewart

Just a few hours after Halloween concluded, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. gave a few tricks and treats of its own as it conducted Operation Reaper, which resulted in the arrest of about a dozen people accused of various drug-related charges.
It’s the third such round-up since 2012. The first, dubbed Operation NASTI (Narcotics Apprehension Suppression Through Intervention), took place Nov. 14, 2012, and resulted in 19 arrests. In December 2013, an eight-month investigation concluded with Operation NASTIER (Narcotics Apprehension Suppression Through Interdiction Eradication Repeat) and resulted in nearly 30 arrests. Operation Reaper resulted in 13 being arrested early Saturday, with several others arrested earlier due to safety concerns. A handful more who were not home when police showed up are expected to be arrested soon.
‘Last year, we did it around Christmastime,’ Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye said. ‘We had thousands of kids at the fairgrounds (Friday night), so we thought it was only fitting that we played some tricks on the drug dealers in the county.’
‘The biggest drug problem that you have is prescription pills,’ the sheriff said later. ‘A lot of these people are selling prescription pills, but some were selling heroin or methamphetamine.’
Arrested Saturday were Vickie Albertson, 41, Palmyra; Jeffrey Berkheimer, 56, Corydon; Robert Schweizer, 60, Depauw; Robetta Johnson, 49, Corydon; Tousha Flannery, 24, New Salisbury; Katrina Ferree, 45, Lanesville; Cathy Turner, 45, Corydon; Edward Carlisle, 44, Corydon; Stephanie Becerra, 28, Corydon; Dwayne Becerra, 37, Corydon; Tasha Sizemore, 27, Salem; Corey Simon, 28, Corydon; and David Poer, 20, Corydon.
The round-up began shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday, with 35 officers teaming up and spreading throughout the county to round up the suspects, who were unknowingly part of a 10-month investigation by the HCSD. The department receives no federal funding for the raids but, during the course of the past 18 months, it has seized more than $100,000 in assets from dealers.
Seelye said the suspects usually acquire the pills through prescriptions and then sell the prescription pills to make money. Due to changes in Indiana law and the way drug charges are classified, what normally in the past would have brought a Class A or B felony has been reduced to the lesser Level 4 and 5 felonies.
‘As long as people are selling drugs in this county, we’re gonna have another one of these sometime next year,’ Seelye said. ‘I will say that it is becoming a lot more difficult to buy drugs. Usually, they want to meet us in other counties because the temperature on drug dealers in this county has been turned up. There is job security here. As long as they continue to sell drugs here, then we’ll continue to do these.’
There were no incidents during Saturday’s arrests. Last year, Seelye said, a deputy was met at the door by a woman who had a .38 pistol in her nightgown.
For Operation Reaper, the department didn’t want to compromise the informants or the undercover officers, so some suspects, including one who had a meth lab with children in the area, were taken down immediately.
‘Regardless of who they are, we have to use universal precautions,’ the sheriff said.