Operation UNITE

Regional Group Collects Nearly 3,000 Pounds of Old Meds

May 2, 2017
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The anti-drug coalition made up of several eastern Kentucky counties says it has collected nearly 3,000 pounds of old prescription medications.

Operation UNITE said in a release that its annual Drug Take-Back Day collected pills brought in for disposal from citizens. Many prescription meds that don't get thrown away are often abused by family members and friends.

UNITE president Nancy Hale says it was the largest amount of pills the group has ever collected.

The drug take-back effort was held on Saturday around the country. UNITE's collection surpassed the previous record by more than 600 pounds.

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The Appalachian Regional Commission has approved a $100,000 grant for Operation UNITE to continue fighting drug abuse in southern and eastern Kentucky.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers says the funding will help expand the organization's impact. The Kentucky Republican says Operation UNITE's approach to curb addiction has become a national model. Rogers helped launch UNITE in 2003.

The competitive grant includes $50,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Kentucky Supreme Court is considering a case that could have a major impact on criminal investigations in the commonwealth.

Floyd Grover Johnson was sentenced to 10 years in prison on multiple drug trafficking charges in Powell County.

But in his appeal, Floyd successfully argued that because the investigation leading to his indictment was conducted solely by uninvited law enforcement agencies outside of Powell County—including detectives from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office and officers working for Operation UNITE, an anti-drug enforcement non-profit founded by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers—then his 2009 indictment should be moot.

In oral arguments before the Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said that if Floyd's appeal is upheld, it could have severe implications for his office's ability to investigate a wide range of cases, from drug trafficking to child pornography.

"What is particularly concerning to the office of the Attorney General is to accept the ... argument would be to make the office of the Attorney General nothing more than a clerk for your local prosecutors, your local city council," Conway said. "I guess someone working at Walmart would have more investigative authority than the office of the Attorney General who’s given peace officer status.”