Twenty-four Medford police officers fanned out across the Rogue Valley early Thursday morning in search of 31 suspected drug dealers who allegedly sold meth, prescription pills and ecstasy to informants.

Twenty-four Medford police officers fanned out across the Rogue Valley early Thursday morning in search of 31 suspected drug dealers who allegedly sold meth, prescription pills and ecstasy to informants.

The investigation kicked off in March, when Medford officers began a drug-buying operation during which informants bought drugs in motels, parking lots and homes across Medford.

"This sweep was targeted toward street dealers," Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said. "Most of these people are frequent fliers who we've dealt with many times in the past."

Thursday's sweep came after the 31 alleged dealers were indicted in Jackson County Circuit Court on felony drug charges.

Police managed to snag 23 of the wanted offenders and are on the lookout for the rest, Doney said. Also arrested was another person found in possession of drugs who was not on the original warrant list.

Two of the outstanding suspects no longer are living in Oregon, Doney said.

The operation had been on hold since June, when the department became aware of a large-scale heroin ring working out of the area. A police sweep held in conjunction with Drug Enforcement Administration agents in October led to more than 20 arrests in that case.

"We are happy that we were able to reach so many of the dealers Thursday after leaving it on the table for so long," Doney said. "These people in the drug trade usually don't stay in one place for a long time."

The drugs purchased included methamphetamine, ecstasy, Percocet, oxycodone, hydrocodone and imitation crack cocaine, Doney said.

"The prescription pills are very valuable on the street," Doney said. "We seized pills that sold from between $4 and $30 per pill."

Most of the drug purchases were for between $25 and $125.

Prescription pills have become popular in the drug trade in recent years as ingredients used for making methamphetamine became harder to get, police said.

"Heroin is still a problem, as are the prescription drugs, but we still come across more marijuana and meth on a day-to-day basis," Doney said.

Among those arrested was Travis Diaz, 21, who was part of a group involved in a fight on Haven Street last month that ended with a shot being fired. No one was injured in the shooting.

Two of those arrested from the warrant list received new charges in addition to the original indictment. Doney said Gideon Dimuro, 26, was found with a 10-plant marijuana garden in a home in the 2000 block of Bradbury Street and Tamara Chorlton, 40, was found with methamphetamine.

Drug arrests have increased by 20 percent in Medford this year. As of September, Medford officers have made 750 drug arrests, up from 627 at that time last year.

"The effect of this sweep will be felt on the street," Doney said. "But we realize more will turn up to take the place of these dealers. It's important that we continue putting pressure on them."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.