North Carolina State Fair

Dozen State Fair workers face drug-related charges

Posted October 24, 2011 3:59 p.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2011 6:18 p.m. EDT

— Wake County deputies arrested 12 carnival workers at the State Fair on drug distribution and possession charges, Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Monday.

Deputies seized about $10,000 in drugs in the investigation, including about $4,000 in oxycodone and $3,000 in heroin, Harrison said.

"We had heroin, crack cocaine, powdered cocaine, marijuana," he said. "I don't know whether heroin is coming back or what it is, but, yes (finding that) did surprise me."

Those arrested sold concessions and worked games on the midway at the fair, he said. No ride operators were charged.

One ride operator said mixing drugs with carnival rides would be a recipe for disaster.

"People spin around at 60 miles an hour in a circle. You've got to be focused. You can't be on drugs," operator Jake Harrell said.

The fairgrounds essentially becomes a small city during the State Fair's 10-day run every year, with 70,000 to 150,000 people a day streaming through. Joel Keith, chief of the State Fairgrounds Police, still called it the "safest city in America."

"We have a lot of undercover agents that you don't see that work the crowds every day, and we're glad they're here," Keith said.

Other than the drug arrests, only nine other people were charged with crimes during the fair, he said.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office, which was in charge of fair security for the first time this year after previously sharing duties with the Raleigh Police Department, decided to aggressively enforce drug laws, Harrison said. More undercover officers will patrol the fair next year to ramp up enforcement even more, he said.

"We want a safe fair. We see something we think we need to look at, whether it is drugs or whatever it may be, we're going to be aggressive on it," he said.