Seventy-five men and women in uniform began knocking on doors at 5 a.m. across the county, attempting to serve more than 150 drug-related warrants. By the end of the work day, they had arrested and charged 50.
The sweep was the result of undercover investigations dating back more than a year and half, said Anniston police Lt. Chris Roberson, who works with the Calhoun-Cleburne Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. He said representatives from law enforcement agencies across Calhoun and Talladega counties, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Alcohol Beverage Control board, were involved in the operation.
The early morning rounds usually give officers a better opportunity of finding the suspects at home, especially on cold, rainy days like Tuesday.
"Everybody is usually still cuddled up that early," Roberson said.
About 90 percent of the arrests were for unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, he said.
"Most (of the arrestees) cooperated, as far as I know," he said. "None have resisted, but we've had several claim that we had the wrong person."
Several of the arrests were made after suspects turned themselves in at the Sheriff's Office, Roberson said. That usually happens when the suspects are not home when police come to serve the warrant, and family members pass word along that police came by, Roberson said.
"We had four or five people walk in and say, 'Y'all looking for me?'" he said. "A lot of times, moms will cooperate … they don't want to tell us where (the suspect) is, but they'll bring them in to us."
The arrests followed undercover drug purchases over the past several months. Information from those operations is added to the agency's 20-year-old intelligence system tracking drug crime in the area. Roberson said 98 percent of the transactions are caught on video these days.
Assistant District Attorney Ron Scarborough, who prosecutes drug cases for the county, has been following the investigation and said the warrants for Tuesday's suspects were obtained about a month ago.
"All of these cases are good cases. I feel very comfortable with them, and will carry them out from here," he said.
Scarborough said that in his experience, it's not uncommon for suspects of drug crimes to plead guilty. Several of those taken to the jail Tuesday will have compounded charges such as illegal possession of firearms, or even more drug possession charges after substances were found on the suspects when arrested.
Roberson said many of the suspects on Tuesday tried to get rid of substances while officers were at the door.
"We had a lot of people who saw it was the police, and officers would hear their feet hit the floor while they ran through the house," he said. "When the officers found them, they'd be flushing stuff down the toilet."
As the number of those hauled in grew throughout the day, vehicles filled the parking lot and street outside the Sheriff's Office. Bail bond company representatives stood outside the jail, intercepting families looking for help.
Kenny Bunn, a retired police officer who opened Kenny Bunn Bail Bonds in 1995, said he probably helped bond out 20 people after Tuesday's roundup. That number is an anomaly for certain; Bunn said sometimes an entire week goes by with no customers.
"With the way the economy is right now, a lot of people in there don't have money and are struggling to (pay to be able to) get out," he said. "It's good to help families get them out."
For many of those arrested Tuesday, being taken to jail was nothing new, Scarborough said.
"Several of these are repeat offenders," he said, looking down the long list of arrestees. "I've seen several people who were on this list before."
More arrests were made later in the evening, but information on those arrests were not available at press time.