AYDEN, Pitt County - In an effort that lasted nearly eight months and was a joint effort between the Greenville and Ayden police departments, 77 individuals are behind bars on drug and weapons charges, officials said Thursday.
Operation Hornet's Nest was a joint operation conducted by the gang task forces from Greenville and Aden PD, starting in November and concluding last month. During that time, six different search warrants were served with officers seizing 366.5 grams of marijuana, 107 grams of crack cocaine, 30.6 grams of heroin, 3.8 grams of an unspecified schedule class IV drug and 11 different firearms.
Representatives from both departments held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the arrests and the impact it would have on gang and drug activity in the area. Nine individuals are still wanted in connection to charges stemming from the investigation.
According to information released by GPD, officers focused their investigation on hotspots where drug and gang activity was reported. GPD said the effort was in response to a growing national trend where drug and gang activity has migrated to smaller towns where law enforcement agencies lack the resources needed to tackle the issue properly.
"We hope this sends a signal to the community that this is the result of being in gang activity: It's not all the glamor, it's an arrest, it's (a) prison sentence behind it, it's often times getting harmed or hurt with gun violence or, even worse, getting killed," Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman said during a press conference Thursday.
In addition to the 77 arrests, Greenville and Ayden PD has arrest warrants for nine other individuals connected with the operation.