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Drug bust nets suspected dealers

In an undercover drug sting on Friday in Lithia Park, Ashland police arrested three people for selling LSD and two people for selling marijuana. A sixth person was arrested for possession of LSD and marijuana.

Police confiscated close to 100 hits of acid on blotter paper and more than $400 in cash on one suspect.

All six people who were arrested are listed as being transient, or having no known address. The oldest person arrested was 43. The second oldest was 27 and the youngest was 19. One arrested suspect was a female.

The raid was instigated by "numerous complaints of open drug use and dealing in the downtown area," according to a police press release.

"We've been planning it for close to a month," said Deputy Police Chief Rich Walsh. "We've been getting information that 4-20 (April 20, known simply a "four-twenty") was going to be a day people look forward to smoking marijuana and doing illegal drugs. We were hearing information that it was going to be pretty prolific in the downtown area."

April 20, or 4-20, is an unofficial holiday for ardent pot smokers and many celebrate by smoking marijuana in public places.

Walsh said police expected to find marijuana and the LSD was "kind of a bonus."

He said there were "several undercover plain clothes officers making controlled buys" supported by seven APD officers. The Jackson County Narcotics Enforcement Team, or JACNET, assisted with the bust.

He said the sting lasted less than 20 minutes. "One officer didn't even have to ask about [drugs]," Walsh said. "It was offered up. He didn't have to go through much effort. We were surprised at how easy it was."

He added that undercover officers were dressed to "blend with the crowd."

Undercover officers were sold an eighth of an ounce of marijuana for $40 and four hits of acid, or LSD, for $20. One suspect took a hit of acid after selling one to an undercover agent, leading Walsh to believe he was being paid in drugs.

"Additional marijuana and suspected LSD, along with recovered APD buy money and additional large sums of cash was found on the suspects," according to a police report.

After the "buys" occurred, police arrested six suspects in two locations: some were arrested where the buys occurred near the front lawn in Lithia Park. Others had already left the area and were found near the swimming hole at the top of the park.

"It shows how prevalent drug dealing is downtown," Walsh said. "We're glad we could make our presence known and make some arrests. We hope to make the downtown area a safe place for parents to take their children and not have to worry about dope dealers selling drugs."

He added, "This won't be the last operation we will be conducting."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or .