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Operation Rolling Thunder
A week-long sting operation on I-85 yielded tangible results for Spartanburg County law enforcement.
Operation Rolling Thunder seized $98,796, 43 pounds of marijuana, and fake designer goods such as handbags and wallets, according to Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office statistics.
"We didn't have any police officers hurt, we didn't have any citizens harmed, we confiscated dope, stolen stuff, and some money. I think it went great," said Sheriff Chuck Wright at Friday's press conference at USC Upstate. The recovered items from the traffic stops were laid out along tables and included stolen credit and gift cards, multiple computers, and a printer for counterfeiting money.
The operation was a collaboration between 21 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Now in its 7th year, it has received criticism from some people in the Upstate about the legality of the stops.
Addressing critics, Wright said ""I'm still protecting your family as well, even though you might not agree with what I'm doing. We're not profiling. We're not being heavy handed. We are trustworthy. And we're working very hard for the tax money that you have to pay."
Sheriff's Office statistics showed officers & deputies stopped 1,297 vehicles for traffic violations during the week. They searched 171 vehicles, including 44 with K-9 police dogs. 49.7% of those stopped were white, 34.4% black, and 12.5% Hispanic.
Wright said the Operation was delayed a bit this year, because criminals had gotten used to the sting taking place during the month of August.
"I think we're winning when you've got somebody on I-20, that has a note on a bag of dope, that says stay out of Spartanburg County because Rolling Thunder is going on," said Wright.
He added that he'd like to see a border-to-border operation involving all counties where I-85 passes through next year, but that it will take some logistical cooperation.