American Red Cross Heroes: Keeping Drugs Out Of The Community

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Many times, law enforcement officials hear about the times they do something wrong. This time, the American Red Cross is making sure four local law enforcers are recognized for the countless times they do something right in its Tribute To Heroes event.

May 8, 2013, was a big day for Geary County Attorneys Steve Opat and Tony Cruz and KBI agents Glen Virden and Chris Turner.

Hours upon hours of work for more than a year paid off when more than 100 arrests were made in a massive drug bust that spanned Geary, Riley and Shawnee counties. The bust also yielded 58 search warrants, 18 children placed in protective custody, 18 firearms and 28 vehicles. The investigation involved wire taps of tens of thousands of phone calls and undercover drug purchases.

"It was long-standing, long-winded and pretty exhausting," Geary County District Attorney Opat said.

"We literally had officers and agents working around-the-clock 24/7 for almost a year," Assistant Geary County District Attorney Cruz said.

Undertaking the biggest drug bust in decades is not easy, but relying on one another, as well as the hundreds of other officers and agents involved, made it possible.

"There's a need for it," Opat said. "We hear a lot about the war on drugs, how unsuccessful it is. Drugs are a real blight on the community. If you can stop drug trafficking for even just a little while, disrupt it, then you disrupt some other things too and you make your community a safer place to live."

Agent Glen Virden, who could not show his face on camera, worked undercover in dangerous situations, but says it's the teamwork that makes or breaks an investigation.

"This case for me was gratifying, working with the Geary County Attorney's Office mainly. The support in the prosecution we've gotten has been something we're not accustomed to."

These men accept the honor of being recognized by the Red Cross, but they are quick to attribute the success to one another.

"It's a little embarrassing to get an award for doing your job, but at the same time, we appreciate it because it's one of the few times we actually get the acknowledgment that we're doing our job and we're doing it right," Cruz said.

"This award isn't mine, this award is the entire team. They were huge that we couldn't have done this case without them." Virden said.

KBI Agent Doug Younger nominated the four men for the honor. Nine others will be recognized for their heroic acts in the community for the American Red Cross Tribute To Heroes event on April 28 at the Ramada Downtown at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $50.