5 arrested here in part of state drug raid

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2002

Warren County resident Jennifer Thornton, center, is searched by officers while her mother, Karen Thornton, right, looks on. Mississippi Narcotics agents making the arrest are, from left, Brad Harris, Ronald Rhodes and Leigh Wells. (The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[07/18/02]After 11 unmarked law enforcement vehicles and a Warren County Sheriff’s Department sedan surrounded four people sitting at a vacant lot beside a car wash at Washington and Belmont streets Wednesday afternoon, one of the people, identified as Lawrence Ward, broke into a run.

He made it about 50 yards before being restrained by officers with Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell.

The 28-year-old Ward, 1502 Spring St., was also charged under an outstanding warrant on another charge of conspiracy to sell drugs.

A man sitting with Ward before the raid, Tommy Hull, 35, 3233 Drummond St., was also charged for the charge of possession of crack cocaine. A juvenile was arrested on a charge of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

The fourth person was released without charges.

The three arrested were among five Vicksburg and Warren County residents picked up Wednesday during a statewide drug bust by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

Such roundups usually follow months of purchases of drugs from the suspects by undercover agents, usually videotaped and conducted using marked currency.

In addition, eight people were arrested in Claiborne County for the sale of marijuana, crack cocaine or both by the North Central Task Force, a 10-person agency group that is about 75 percent federally funded, Claiborne County Sheriff Frank Davis said.

Leigh Wells, the Mississippi Narcotics agent in Vicksburg, said drug agents and other police officers knew from past dealings what each suspect looked like.

“Most of the time you know from dealing with them what they drive,” Well said. “And other people talk.”

Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents, officers from the Vicksburg Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Department deputies searched Vicksburg and Warren County during the afternoon for people with outstanding drug warrants. Over two days, Operation Hot Spots II saw 302 drug arrests in 47 of the state’s 82 counties.

The initiative is a second response to requests from sheriffs, police chiefs, mayors and citizens from around the state to augment their drug-fighting resources, said MBN Director Don Strange. Hot Spots I was conducted in June 2000.

“The goal of Operation Hot Spots II is to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods around the state by reducing street drug sales and related crimes,” Strange said.

Drug raids Wednesday yielded 14 arrests in Warren, Yazoo, Sharkey and Claiborne counties, Wells said.

Other arrests during the Warren County drug raid include Jennifer Thornton, 20, 108 Maria Drive. Thornton was arrested at her home for the charge of conspiracy to sell marijuana. Monique Logan, 26, 129 Lee Circle was arrested at a mobile home on Redbone Road and charged with sale of marijuana.

Drug agents also went to some addresses to make arrests, but got no answer when they knocked. “We’re still looking for those who weren’t at home,” Wells said.

Thornton was released from the Warren County Jail Wednesday night on a $5,000 bond. All others arrested in the Warren County and Vicksburg remained in the Warren County Jail. Hull’s bond was $5,000, Logan’s $10,000 and Ward was being held without bond.