In a pre-dawn drug operation Thursday, authorities from local, state and federal agencies started rounding up people, some of them alleged gang members, accused in the distribution and possession of prescription painkillers and high-grade meth known as ice, George County Sheriff Keith Havard said.
As of 11 a.m., authorities in the newly formed Southeast Mississippi Narcotics Task Force had 18 of the 21 people in custody, all identified during the two-month undercover operation dubbed Operation Show Time.
“We have been seeing a surge of ICE in this area in the last two years,” Havard said Thursday. “The majority of it is coming straight out of Mexico. They have carriers that transport it here.”
The task force is composed of authorities from the George County and Greene County sheriff’s departments, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.
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Havard said the gang members in the bust are either Simon City Royals or Black Gangsta Disciples.
Those arrested, by charge:
▪ Sale of a controlled substance: Beverly McDowell, 36; Dontay T. Jack, 34; Carla D. Riley, 35; Aaron J. Stokley, 24; Carl K. Blackston, 57
▪ Sale of a controlled substance, two counts: Robert E. Estep, 67; Larry E. Fairley, 58; Darrell W. Lawrence, 62; Voin E. McDaniel Jr., 31; Kendall L. Hardin, 43; Howard Street Sr., 57; Mathew L. McKissick, 30
▪ Sale of a controlled substance, three counts: Jeannette L. Dennis, 59
▪ Transfer of a controlled substance: Von R. Dunham, 51
▪ Possession of a controlled substance: Christine B. Thomas, 36; Roy Davis, 29; Teri M. Lambert, 30
▪ Felony possession of a controlled substance, two counts: Jacob D. Stringer, 26
Havard did not immediately identify the alleged gang members. All of those arrested are being held at the George County jail pending initial court hearings, and the investigation is ongoing.
In recent years, drug raids in George County have resulted in the arrests of other alleged members of street gangs, including Latin Kings.
“I want the people of Mississippi to know that MBN continues to work aggressively with its local and federal partners to purge our communities of drugs and the people who sell them,” Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director John Dowdy said. “Drug dealers are hereby put on notice: If you sell drugs, we are coming after you, so start looking over your shoulder ... your time is coming.”