Arrests made in federal narcotics investigation

A 7-month narcotics investigation ended with multiple arrests in Vernon and other locations. The investigation included the Vernon Police Department, Texas DPS Narcotics, 46th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, DEA, Homeland Security, Hardeman County Sheriff’s office and Oklahoma City Police Department.

Vernon Police Chief Randy Agan said that on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 8:30 a.m., five federal drug conspiracy warrants were served, resulting in the arrest of three Vernon residents. Warrants were served in Vernon at 2226 Sand Road and 4515 Cottonwood. In addition a Hardeman County resident and an Oklahoma City resident were arrested. All five had been indicted by a federal grand jury. There identities were not released, pending arraignment in federal court,

Hardeman County Sheriff Pat Laughery said the operation began in Chillicothe, expanded to Vernon and led all the way to Oklahoma City. The sheriff said the investigation was named Operation Bates Motel.

He said a Chillicothe suspect purchased more than 23 pounds of meth (street value of $70,000) from two different Oklahoma suspects over the past seven months. The investigation tied into a Homeland Security investigation into the Aryan Brotherhood and methamphetamine trafficking into Oklahoma and Texas prisons.

“I am happy we could take down a large time dealer out of Chillicothe,” Laughery stated. “Chief Deputy Mark Williams and I had a lot of sleepless nights doing surveillance.”

In addition to the federal warrants, Chief Agan said that a white male was taken into custody at the Sand Road residence on a felony warrant out of Young County, and for possession of a controlled substance. Steven Anthony Mitchell was booked in to the Wilbarger County Jail.

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