A team of officers depart an Oneida residence Thursday morning as they search for accused drug dealers. Among them are agents from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Scott County Sheriff's Department's Eric Newport and Kris Lewallen, and Oneida Police Department's Michael Blaker and Bill Miller. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)
A team of officers depart an Oneida residence Thursday morning as they search for accused drug dealers. Among them are agents from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Scott County Sheriff's Department's Eric Newport and Kris Lewallen, and Oneida Police Department's Michael Blaker and Bill Miller. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)

WINFIELD — “It’s a bad day to be a drug dealer in Scott County.”

Those were the words Thursday of Scott County Sheriff’s Department deputy Eric Newport as teams of law enforcement officers from the Sheriff’s Department and Oneida Police Department — with assistance from Winfield chief of police Steve Trammell and agents from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC) — set out on a mission to round up almost four dozen suspected drug dealers.

Officers lead an accused drug dealer from a home near the Scott County Fairgrounds Thursday morning. From front are Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips, Oneida Chief of Police Darryl Laxton, Winfield Chief of Police Steve Trammell and Scott County Sheriff's Department detective Dennis Chambers. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)
Officers lead an accused drug dealer from a home near the Scott County Fairgrounds Thursday morning. From front are Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips, Oneida Chief of Police Darryl Laxton, Winfield Chief of Police Steve Trammell and Scott County Sheriff's Department detective Dennis Chambers. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)

The round-up — targeting 43 suspected dealers from virtually every community in Scott County — was not unlike similar operations carried out over the past several years by law enforcement agencies. But was the first since Ronnie Phillips became the county’s sheriff — a post he’ll serve until at least Sept. 1 after being appointed by Scott County Commission to fulfill the remainder of the late Mike Cross’s term until the next election in August.

Cross, who died in early December after a bout with a rare form of melanoma, was on the minds of more than a few of the officers involved in Thursday’s round-up. They termed the round-up “Operation Pendulum,” a tip of the hat to Cross’s vision to see Scott County’s pattern of drug abuse halted and the pendulum swing in the right direction.

“Sheriff Cross would have loved this,” Sheriff’s Department drug agent Kris Lewallen commented as he navigated his undercover F-150 pickup across a snowy back road towards the home of a man who agents say sold controlled narcotics to a confidential informant working with local law enforcement on an undercover drug investigation.

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Ben Garrett is Independent Herald editor. Contact him at bgarrett@ihoneida.com. Follow him on Twitter, @benwgarrett.