A Pike County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher and deputy were arrested Thursday morning following an undercover drug investigation by Operation UNITE.
Matthew Blanton, 33, of Rocky Road, Pikeville, and 34-year-old Bradley Childers of Rocky Branch, Pikeville, were each charged with first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and lodged in the Pike County Jail, according to Operation UNITE.
Blanton’s main duty is as a dispatcher for the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, but he is also a sworn deputy in the department, according to investigators.
After becoming aware of the arrest, Pike County Sheriff Charles "Fuzzy" Keesee issued a statement that said Blanton had been "placed on leave of absence without pay and suspended of all duties with the Pike County Sheriff’s Office until UNITE completes their investigation."
According to UNITE Law Enforcement Director Paul Hays, a UNITE detective was working in the Marrowbone Community of Pike County Wednesday afternoon with a confidential witness and they purchased a quantity of Oxycodone from Childers.
Blanton, who was not on duty at the time, was with Childers during the drug transaction.
At some point Childers "became suspicious" and asked Blanton to use his resources to identify the undercover detective, Hays said. Blanton also helped Childers learn the identity of the confidential witness, according to investigators.
"Later that night Mr. Childers contacted our witness and threatened his life," Hays added.
UNITE detectives were made aware of the reported threat and began an investigation.
UNITE was assisted in the investigation by officers from the Pikeville Police Department and Kentucky State Police.
An arrest warrant was issued for Childers, and he was picked up shortly after midnight. Blanton was arrested about 11 a.m. Thursday.
"We take threats against individuals involved with our investigations very seriously," Hays said. "We are also very concerned when a law enforcement officer is implicated in any illegal activity."
"The cooperation provided by Sheriff Keesee, and those officers who worked throughout the night to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion, are to be commended," Hays said.