Reporter: Jeremy Mills l Jemon Haskins
(6:00 p.m. Friday) Amherst, VA - Amherst County deputies are taking credit for locking up dozens of area drug dealers. Early Friday morning, the county began rounding up suspects who allegedly sold narcotics to undercover officers over the past nine months.
They gathered at 5:00 in the morning, heading out early to wrap up months of hard work.
"This particular operation, we were aggressive on it, pretty much the officers have been working on it every day since the first part of April," said Amherst County Sheriff Jimmy Ayers.
They're calling it Operation Silent Night. In the end, deputies say they were able to buy drugs from 69 people. The purchases included powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
"And I'm surprised it hasn't been in Amherst County earlier but we are seeing a little bit more meth than we have in the past," said Amherst County Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Maddox.
"I have been in law enforcement here in the community for 25 years and some of these drugs I have never seen in our community before," said Sheriff Ayers.
And many of the accused dealers are getting younger and younger.
"It's almost an epidemic, especially among our young people. As a parent, it scares me to death," said Sheriff Ayers.
County officials say it's that fear in the community that prompted this operation.
"That's the number one complaint of the citizens that we have here, is that you have to do something about the drug dealing, you need to stop the drug dealing," said Maddox.
"Will it stop it? It's not going to happen but I hope for a while anyway, it will slow the drug trafficking down somewhat in our community," said Sheriff Ayers.
We're told many of those arrested have previous convictions of drug possession and possession with intent to distribute.
(11:50 a.m. Friday) Amherst Co., VA - Authorities in Amherst County are in the middle of a major drug bust. As of noon, 15 of about 70 warrants have been served.
Early Friday morning- about 5:00 a.m.- deputies started rounding up suspects across Central Virginia- including Campbell, Nelson and Bedford Counties and the city of Lynchburg.
They're calling it "Operation Silent Night."
The investigation began in April and the grand jury handed down indictments earlier this week.
Sixty-nine people are facing 171 felony charges.
The drugs seized range from marijuana to heroin.
A press conference on the arrests will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday afternoon at the Amherst County Sheriff's Office.
We'll bring you the latest on this story tonight on ABC 13 News at 6:00 p.m.
To view mug shots of the arrests so far, click through the slideshow to the right.---(7:45 a.m. Friday) Amherst Co., VA - More people are facing charges in connection with a drug bust that started back in April.The Amherst County Sheriff's Office began rounding up suspects at around 5:00 Friday morning as part of Operation Silent Night.Since the operation began, investigators have charged 69 people with more than 170 felony charges related to the distribution of a variety of drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin and ecstasy.The sheriff's office says they will continue to make arrests throughout the day.