NEWTON – Catawba County Sheriff’s Office deputies dispersed into teams of two across the county Wednesday morning in an effort to take into custody 76 suspects in connection with more than 250 felony drug charges.

The drug raid operation was titled “17-76.”

CCSO Capt. Jason Reid, head of the sheriff’s office drug task force, said the office has been working on the operation since February or March.

“We conducted Operation M80 at the first of the year where we went after 80 individuals, and this is picking up where that left off,” Reid said.

Deputies spread throughout the county, knocking on doors in an effort to serve warrants to the 76 individuals. In some instances, deputies were met by unopened doors, informed a suspect was no longer occupying a residence, or were referred to a different address.

Reid said the majority of warrants served Wednesday included methamphetamine or heroin-related charges, specifying that’s what the operation targeted.

“If we have any heroin distributed within the county, it’s something we need to deal with,” Reid said.

Several suspects were taken into custody at their homes, and transported to the Catawba County Detention Center to appear before a magistrate.

Two suspects in Wednesday’s raid were apprehended in the 1200 block of 14th Street NE.

Shyheim Kentrell Huitt, 20, of Hickory, and Morgan Dawn Benfield, 20, of Hickory, were each charged with one felony count of possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana, one felony count of possession of marijuana and one felony count of maintaining a vehicle, dwelling, or place for a controlled substance.

When asked if she was surprised by Wednesday morning’s events, Benfield said, “I wish you’d get the (expletive) out of my face.”

Huitt replied after being asked if he had any comment on being taken into custody, “No! What the (expletive)!”

“The message we’re trying to send is to the community,” Reid said. “Letting them know that if they continue to call into our tip line and report crimes to our sheriff’s office, that we’re going to relentlessly pursue these drug traffickers and distributors.”

The number of warrants successfully served Wednesday has not yet been released. The Hickory Daily Record will update this story as more information becomes available.

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Max Seng is the crime reporter for the Hickory Daily Record. ​

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