CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. - The Catawba County Sheriff's Office arrested dozens of accused drug dealers Wednesday in its latest roundup, dubbed 'Operation 17-76.'

Deputies took out arrest warrants for 76 people;. As of mid-afternoon, they arrested 44 people for various drug offenses.

Capt. Jason Reid said many of those people were charged with selling controlled substances, particularly heroin and methamphetamine, within 1,000 feet of a school.

"It's alarming," Capt. Reid said. "We're out relentlessly pursuing these guys."

He said almost all of their cases now rely on tips called into a dedicated hotline, which allows tipsters to remain anonymous.

"We want to encourage the community to call in as much as they can," Capt. Reid said. "We just need to be pointed in the right direction."

He said investigators will continue pursuing the other 32 suspects still at large.

The drug tip line is 828-466-2847.