TBI, local officials announce 31 indictments in Lauderdale County drug bust

RIPLEY, Tenn. -- Lauderdale County and state officials announced Monday they'd indicted 31 people on drug charges in Lauderdale County and had already arrested 23 of them.

They accused most of the suspects of dealing or trying to deal cocaine. They also charged some with offenses related to marijuana, Hydrocodone and methamphetamine.

Lisa Hallock is raising her daughter in the quaint, quiet town of Ripley, about 60 miles from downtown Memphis. But she knew they have the same problems as big cities.

“A friend of a friend of a friend has a sister that is hooked- meth, pills, now it’s heroin, needles. All that. Apparently it’s rampant,” Hallock said.

“TBI is committed to ensuring the safety of rural areas of this state. We will continue to conduct large scale operations like this geared at getting drug-dealing criminals off the street,” said T.J. Jordan, assistant director of the TBI's drug investigations division.

Agents said the bust also represented a step forward in beating the opioid epidemic.

“We now know the dealers are using fentanyl with cocaine and methamphetamine. We have to try to go out there and make sure we’re not having episodes of mass casualties," Jordan said.

Hallock said the TBI is especially important in rural areas because it’s easier for criminals to spread out and get away from local law enforcement agencies, which are often already under-staffed.

The Lauderdale County sheriff and Ripley police chief both declined to make any comment on the arrests.