Sheriff Colleen O’Neill releases statement about Operation Heat Wave

WATERTOWN, NY —  Jefferson County Sheriff Collen M. O’Neill released the following statement on Nov. 12, 2020:

The success of Operation Heat Wave lands squarely on the committed law enforcement officers that took the time and effort to put together an amazing case that takes the worst of our society off the streets – drug dealers. If illegal drugs and addiction hasn’t affected your family or friends, consider yourself very lucky. Schools, businesses, mental health resources, medical facilities, your taxes and everyday households all feel the negative impact these defendants bring to our community.

The cooperative effort of this long, complicated investigation is a true testament of the exceptional working relationship of all law enforcement in our community. We are lucky to live and work here knowing that behind the scenes, work is always being done to protect us. The level of talent and commitment of those leading this charge is remarkable and I am honored to lead an agency that cares so much about the welfare of those in our community.

Nobody breaking the law here should take a sigh of relief if they were not arrested today. This investigation and the far reaching network of individuals involved will be the subject of future attention for weeks and months to come.

Thank you to ALL of the law enforcement agencies that participated in this investigation and in the warrant detail this morning.

Thank you Grant Sussey for making us welcome at the Jefferson County facility at the Watertown International Airport where COVID regulations could be organized and followed.

Thank You Jefferson County Public Health for your advice and support and for all you have done to keep all of us as safe as possible through this unprecedented, challenging year.

Thank you to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office for always having our backs.

We all have to recognize the outstanding work of the Jefferson County Jail Administrative staff, our Correction Officers and medical unit who prepared the jail to handle the intake of up to 30 defendants. Working days, if not weeks ahead of time to consider all of the COVID implications and make room to quarantine (for 15 days) every new admittance. And for their assistance with processing and transportation of defendants today.

My administrative staff, Undersheriff McDermott, Lt. Amann, the Sergeants, Detectives and Deputies and civilian staff for input, advice and professionalism that makes us successful – every day.

Huge gratitude and acknowledgment to the Metro Jeff Drug Task Force for their almost 2 years of committed effort. They gave up time with their families, holidays and vacations because when an investigation like this kicks off, there are no days off. This was their case. It was their initiative and their commitment to it that led us to be here today.

Thank you to the New York State Attorney General’s Office for their support and guidance that made this effort and this success possible.

Thank you to our community for supporting YOUR Law enforcement officers through this unprecedented and unsettled time. We appreciate you too!

~Sheriff Colleen M. O’Neill