Newton Police made a set of drug-related arrests Jan 17, sweeping up five juveniles — and two adults — at school and their homes. The arrests were made Wednesday morning as part of a Harvey County Drug Task Force investigation into drug activity at Newton High School.
One other suspect in the case was already in custody on other charges. Two additional arrest warrants are still outstanding, and police are seeking those individuals.
The individuals, all of whom attend NHS or have recently withdrawn, were arrested on charges of selling marijuana, Xanax, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
The arrests are the culmination of a two-month investigation by the Newton Police Department and Harvey Count Sheriff's Office, in cooperation with USD 373 officials. Five of the arrests were made at NHS and two were made elsewhere in the city.
“Our goal is to protect the safe and healthy learning environment for Newton students,”said Newton Police Chief Eric Murphy. “Youth are faced with many challenges at school, and the peer pressure to use drugs should not be one of them.”
During the course of the investigation, police seized 74.5 grams of marijuana and 97 dosage units of prescription drugs. None of the cases involved weapons, and the investigations did not present a danger to students or staff.
Also as part of Wednesday’s arrests, several K-9 teams from throughout the state assisted in conducting free air sniffs in the parking lot and locker areas. One K-9 drug indication in the parking lot was investigated, but no arrests were made.
Murphy said that re-establishment of the Harvey County Drug Task Force in 2017 was a key factor in the investigation.
“Drugs are certainly not a problem unique to Newton, but we are glad to have a renewed focus on driving these crimes out of Harvey County,” Murphy said.
The planned arrests were initially set for Jan. 16, however dangerous windchills forced schools to close that day.
A post to NPD's Facebook page Wednesday morning read, "To prevent any concerns for student’s safety, we want to let the community know the High School is in a scheduled lockdown. There is no threat or cause for concern."
All five juveniles were taken to Juvenile Intake with Harvey County Community Corrections. At intake, juveniles are screened based on charges, home life and mental health factors. Workers consult with the Harvey County Attorney to place juveniles. Options include release to guardians, emergency shelters and detention centers.