Crime

Seven arrested in drug, gang investigation of The Hill in Vancleave, sheriff says

A drug-trafficking investigation that targeted 11 people led to seven arrests involving alleged gang activity at The Hill, a Vancleave area known for years for illegal drug and property crime arrests.

A roundup before sunrise Tuesday began with “pounding on the doors” of suspects in Jackson County and a couple in Pearl River County, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said.

A multi-agency investigation led to arrest warrants for 11 suspects, nine of whom have been indicted on federal charges, he said. Two will face state charges.

Ezell identified those arrested as Vancleave residents Terry “Fathead” Reddix, Sharon Stallone, John Cooley and Darryl Williams; Ocean Springs resident Chris Reddix; and Picayune residents Requita Magee and Marcel Graves. The indictment has not been unsealed yet in federal court, likely because suspects were still being sought later Tuesday.

The Hill is the name locals call an area in the 14000 block of Mississippi 57. It’s behind Martin Luther King Park north of Vancleave High School.

Terry Reddix had been arrested at The Hill in 2013. The charge was possession of cocaine within 1,500 feet of a park.

Ezell said drugs involved in this investigation include meth, prescription pills, cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana, and suspects bought stolen goods to trade for drugs.

An increasing number of drugs from Mexico are turning up in Jackson County, coming via trips from cities such as Houston, Ezell said.

The federal indictment had not been unsealed by Tuesday afternoon.

Ezell said those charged in federal court would have initial court appearances Wednesday morning.

Chris Freeze, special agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi, was with Ezell in a news conference on the arrests Tuesday.

Ezell said Freeze spoke about concerns over opioids and how many of the drug deaths in the area are due to illegal prescription drugs.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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