Thirty-eight men and women charged in connection with one of Muscogee County's largest drug stings appeared in Columbus Recorder's Court today for their first appearance hearing.
Judge Michael Cielinski had the defendants come before him one by one as he read them their rights. Each has the right to an attorney, a grand jury indictment, an attorney and to stay silent, Cielinski said. A number of them said they wanted legal representation, which ended their proceedings this morning and led to the next defendant being brought before the judge.
Some 70 suspects have been jailed and 30 more been identified in the 10-month undercover investigation. Law enforcement officials expect to make more than 80 additional arrests and file more than 400 drug-related charges before the sting is complete.
Another round of defendants are scheduled for Recorder's Court Saturday morning for their first appearance hearings.
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See Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer for more on this story.