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Drug network busted in Sumter County

AMERICUS, Ga. -- The Sumter County Sheriff's Office, working closely with other law enforcement agencies, launched the second arrest phase of a drug network investigation Thursday.

According to Capt. Ralph Stewart, chief investigator for the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, the investigation began in October with growing indications of a large drug network working in the Americus area. The initial arrest phase of that operation netted 23 suspects in April, mostly on cocaine and marijuana charges, Stewart said.

Stewart said at least 30 suspects had been rounded up by late afternoon on Thursday with the start of the second phase of arrests, with some 50 additional warrants outstanding. All of the suspects are said to be involved with what Stewart called a "huge" drug network operation for the area population.

Stewart said the Sheriff's Office received close assistance from law enforcement agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Agency, Columbus; Georgia State Patrol, Americus Division; Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Region 3; the Americus Police Department; the Lee County Sheriff's Office, and the Georgia State Patrol.

"There was a lot of dedicated police work going into this investigation," Stewart said, "with more 2,500 man-hours in the first two months."