For more than a year, deputies from two rural Texas counties went undercover, associating themselves with methamphetamine and heroin dealers who worked out of dilapidated homes and a popular chicken restaurant.
“Operation Ice Storm” netted 23 arrests last week after deputies from Hamilton and Coryell counties uncovered a heroin and meth ring that ran from Fort Worth to Austin, according to a Hamilton County news release.
Several of the 20 arrested for felony delivery of meth or heroin said they belonged to, or deputies confirmed they belonged to, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Most of those facing the felony charges were caught with more than 4 grams but less than 200 grams of either meth or heroin and could serve up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
“These things fan from Fort Worth to Austin to Waco to the Belton-Killeen-Temple area,” Hamilton County Sheriff Justin Caraway told KWTX, adding that he expects 20 to 30 more arrests in connection with the operation.
Most of the drugs that were being sold in Hamilton and the surrounding area had come from neighboring Coryell County as well as Tarrant, Travis and Bell counties, according to the release.
“When running for office the drug issues in our county were a hot topic,” Caraway said in the release. “We knew we had to do something to send a message.”
Most of those arrested were from tiny Hamilton (population 2,970), Gatesville (12,498) or Copperas Cove (32,808).
Several ramshackle homes, known drug dens for some time, according to police, were raided in the sweep. Warrants were issued for the arrest of 24 individuals on Feb. 15.
Deputies found methamphetamine, digital scales and other drug paraphernalia in at least two homes during the raids. The total quantity of drugs seized as a result of the operation was unclear Thursday.
One other popular location for drug sales was a now-closed Bush’s Chicken restaurant, right in the center of Hamilton, which lies about 85 miles southwest of Fort Worth. According to posts on the restaurant’s Facebook page, it closed some time after May 2017.
Black tar heroin was sold out of the drive-thru window there, according to the release.