Police: Downtown devoid of drug dealers

The only green in Lithia Park these days is the lawn.

When the Ashland Police Department conducted their third drug sting of the season in Lithia Park last month, undercover officers weren't able to find anyone to sell them marijuana, or other drugs.

Five people were arrested for selling marijuana or LSD in the first sting on April 20, and three people were arrested in the second, which occurred on June 7. For police, the lack of arrests this time is good news.

"The word is out," said Detective Bon Stewart. "If you're selling drugs downtown you might be selling to an undercover officer, so you better not be doing it. The general consensus is the first two undercover operations have been successful."

He said some of the people undercover officers approached during the recent sting complained of not being able to find any drugs downtown.

"As a matter of fact, some people complained about how 'dry' it has been," he said. "They can't find anything either."

A 15-year-old Ashland girl who frequently hangs out on the Plaza and in Lithia Park confirmed Stewart's assertion.

"I think they did run everyone out of town," she said, declining to reveal her name. "I don't really know because I don't really smoke [marijuana] but my friends say it's been hard to find."

As police said after the previous two drug stings, Stewart said APD will "absolutely" be conducting more downtown drug stings.

"There are plans to do more undercover drug operations in the near future," he said.

The latest sting occurred on June 15. Stewart said Ashland police were assisted by other agencies. He said Ashland officers, such as himself, are too well-known to pull off an undercover buy so officers from other agencies are used for that assignment.

In another victory for police in the campaign against downtown drug selling, Stewart said one of the people arrested in the first sting and "implicated" in the second one has left town.

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