New partnership results in area drug suspect arrests

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lawrence County and state law enforcement officers made 21arrests Tuesday and Wednesday during a drug sweep as part of anoperation that has resulted in 110 charges against a total of 71suspects in 51 cases, the sheriff said.

Dubbed Operation Lock-Up, the sweep is the culmination of afive-month joint investigation by the Lawrence County Sheriff’sDepartment and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

“It’s been running without any flaws. I think it’s really madean impact,” said Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thames.

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The charges result from a variety of alleged drug violations,ranging from possession to sales, Thames said. Varying amounts ofcocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and pharmaceuticals wereseized.

Other arrests are pending as the joint task force continues toround up suspects targeted by the investigation, Thames said.

“This will probably slow the drug activity down for a while, butI encourage citizens to notify this office of any suspiciousactivity they may see,” he said. “My office will continue ouraggressive approach in deterring drug use and dealing in ourcounty.”

The investigation was the result of a recent partnership formedbetween the sheriff’s department and MBN.

The partnership places one full-time MBN agent in the county.The county also provides one agent.

Lawrence County was given the opportunity to participate in theprogram after withdrawing from the Pearl River Basin Narcotics TaskForce last year. Three neighboring counties are also participatingin the pilot program.

In addition to the MBN agent, Thames said, the county has theagency’s other resources to draw upon when needed, includingcommunications, intelligence and a helicopter.

To retain the element of surprise as they launched OperationLock-Up, law enforcement officials did not announce the partnershipearlier, Thames said.

The sheriff said he believes the present arrangement with MBNwill prove to be much more successful than participation in thetask force. Supervisors and some law enforcement authorities hadexpressed some disappointment with the task force when comparingresults versus costs.

The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and theMississippi Department of Corrections assisted in this week’sroundup, Thames said.