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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/16/2006
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
OBNDD SPOKESMAN MARK WOODWARD
(405) 521-2885 OR (800) 522-8031




DRUG SWEEP TARGETS LARGE-SCALE METH, MARIJUANA DISTRIBUTORS

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have put the brakes on what is being described as a major drug distribution network in eastern Oklahoma. Mark Woodward, Spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, says 17 arrest warrants and 12 search warrants were executed around 6:30 a.m. this morning at rural locations around Hughes County. According to Woodward the warrants are related to a multi-agency investigation that began several months ago. Woodward says the Hughes County Sheriffs Department, the Holdenville Police Department and Highway Patrol Troopers in Hughes County received information about large quantities of methamphetamine and marijuana being distributed in the area.

"Drug Task Force officers in this area have worked tirelessly over the past several months using this information to build solid cases on some of the largest drug suppliers in Hughes County. In addition to dealing meth and marijuana, some of these individuals have ties to violent local biker gangs, and we are glad they've been removed from the community."

---Mark Woodward, OBN Spokesman

"The law enforcement officers have done a magnificent job today in arresting several organized drug traffickers and high level dealers. Their arrests are the result of a six-month investigation by the District 22 Drug Task Force, OBNDD, OSBI, and DEA. This morning's roundup was made possible by the cooperation and planning of several law enforcement agencies including DEA, IRS, District 23 DTF, Holdenville Police Department, Seminole Police Department, Hughes County Sheriffs Office, Pontotoc County Sheriffs Office, Chickasaw Nation Light Horsemen, and Oklahoma Highway Patrol. This will put a sizable dent in the drug distribution in southeastern Oklahoma."

-----Hughes County District Attorney Bill Peterson

"This investigation is an example of why District Attorney's Drug Task Forces are so important to drug enforcement in rural Oklahoma. Their ability to organize local, state, and federal resources is what makes a difference in our communities. Their continued funding at the state and federal level is vital."

---State Drug Task Force Coordinator Tom Cunningham:

In addition to several arrests, authorities also seized 105 grams of meth, a quarter ounce of marijuana, several dozen guns, 6 cars, 3 motorcycles, about $3,500 cash and some stolen property. Eleven people are in custody, including Woody Michael Rippetoe, 49, of Calvin, Oklahoma who Woodward says was the primary target. According to Woodward, Rippetoe "always seemed to have dope to sell", including meth and marijuana.

Other arrests linked to the investigation include:

Michael Kent Blaylock, 47, Calvin
Barbara Gail Pitts, 49, Holdenville,
Michelle Bell (age and address unknown)
John Bell (age and address unknown)
Mary Chronister (age and address unknown)
John Tallant (age and address unknown)
Loretta Hance (age and address unknown)
Bernadine Borders (age and address unknown)
(And two others arrested following a recent traffic stop) (Age and addresses unknown)

All of the defendants are facing charges of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Dangerous Substances. Additional charges and arrests are expected.