Law enforcement officials from throughout Warren County arrested 10 of 22 targets by 10 a.m. today in a drug roundup that wrapped up four months of investigations.

Nine of the 22 targets of Operation Summer Relief have been accused of purchasing more pills containing pseudoephedrine than allowed by state law, said Tommy Loving, director of the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force. The effort started just before 7 a.m. today.

“Without pseudoephedrine, you can’t make meth,” he said.

So far this year, 15 methamphetamine laboratories have been found in Warren County compared to nine in all of 2007, Loving said.

“The increase has provided us with an increased emphasis to target pseudo shoppers,” he said.

The arrests made in this effort will reduce the supply of pseudoephedrine locally that has been used to produce methamphetamine, said Chris Cohron, commonwealth’s attorney for Warren County.

The state’s new Meth Check monitoring software went online June 1, which should speed investigations into pseudoephedrine shopping, Loving said.

“The cases in this roundup were done before Meth Check, where we went into the pharmacies and checked logs (of those buying pseudoephedrine),” he said.

Meth Check will allow law enforcement to be alerted instantly when someone purchases more pseudoephedrine than allowed under state law, Loving said.

There are individuals who accidentally purchase too much pseudoephedrine, he noted, not intending to use it for illegal purposes.

“They might be shopping for a large family or for a number of elderly family members,” Loving said.

The new system should prevent them from unintentionally breaking the law, he said.

The rest of the roundup targets today were crack cocaine and marijuana traffickers, Loving said.

Marijuana is becoming more prevalent as the wholesale price of the drug decreases and the potency of marijuana increases, he said.

The roundup’s 22 targets also included five prior felons, Cohron said.

“With the rate of release from the (Kentucky) Department of Corrections, our next roundup will include more convicted felons,” he said.

The Department of Corrections has begun releasing nonviolent offenders to alleviate prison overcrowding and reduce incarceration costs.

The Bowling Green Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police assisted in the roundup. The effort will continue throughout the day.

Those arrested and their charges include:

Mary Fisher, 29, 1609 Catherine Drive, two counts trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school;

Betty Escoraza, 36, 1740 Old Louisville Road, possession of a meth precursor;

Tommy Howard Jr., 33, 936 Shive Lane Lot 148, unlawful possession of a meth precursor;

Jeremiah Johnson, 29, 225 Maplemere Drive, unlawful possession of a meth precursor;

Jeffery Lynn Morgan, 44, 936 Shive Lane Lot 178, unlawful possession of a meth precursor;

Donnie Roberts, 50, 7243 Plano Road, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, first-degree persistent felony offender;

Bobby C. Vanmeter, 29, 418 R.H. Martin Road, Smiths Grove, convicted felon in possession of a firearm, first-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia (second offense) and second-degree persistent felony offender;

William Lee Whitlow, 63, 1318 Kentucky St., first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance;

Tommy Whobrey, 39, 163 Butler Way, unlawful possession of a meth precursor;

Ronnie Burden, 49, 565 Leonard Church Road, Morgantown, two counts unlawful possession of a meth precursor (second offense), second-degree persistent felony offender.

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