Thursday, July 26, 2012
Morning roundup nets suspects
By SUE WATSON
A multi-agency force fanned out over Marshall County in the early morning hours Friday and just over 20 arrest warrants were served, according to sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
The arrests, in connection with recent grand jury indictments, were mostly for sale or illegal use of drugs such as cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and marijuana, he said.
A number of the Marshall County grand jury indictments had been sealed while investigations proceeded, the sheriff said. The jail was at capacity by noon, Dickerson said. About 60 individuals were on the list to be served.
Some suspects turned themselves in over the weekend after learning they were being sought, he said.
Agencies executing the roundup included the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, the Holly Springs and Byhalia police departments, the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service and Mississippi Department of Corrections. All arrests were made without incident or resistance, the sheriff said.
Dickerson said jail crowding hampers the number of arrests that can be made and processed at a given time. Capacity is at 96 by court order.
Some arrests were for outstanding warrants for failure to appear in court, he said, but the vast majority were grand jury indictments. The cases will be arraigned in the August term of circuit court. The ages of suspects ranged from the early 20s to ages 60 and above in the drug-related arrests.
“We find these individuals continue to sell cocaine, methamphetamine, and other substances to our youth of the county as well as to adults who can afford it,” Dickerson said.
Approximately 80 percent of inmates in the county jail, as well as in jails nationwide, are directly or indirectly related to drug use or sale, the sheriff said. The sale of drugs also ties into gang activity, he said.
Education is the key to helping youngsters avoid the trap of drug addiction and trafficking, according to Dickerson. To that end, the sheriff has placed officers in the county schools to teach drug abuse awareness education classes to fifth and sixth grade students. The education, begun in the county schools a number of years ago, helps the schools maintain a safe workplace and teaching environment.
“We feel like it’s a positive program and the presence of deputies in school to teach and assist in traffic control helps maintain safe schools,” Dickerson said.
Officers also monitor gang activity and teach youngsters there are better ways to advance themselves such as participation in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and other club activities, he said.
The sheriff will participate in a general assembly of the teaching and administrative and support staff on the Byhalia school campus this week.
“We maintain it is better to have rank in a positive organization than to have membership and rank in criminal gangs,” the sheriff said.
While Marshall County does not have the gang presence of other cities and counties, Dickerson said any criminal gang activity is unacceptable.
“We work through teaching to attempt to deter such activity,” he said.
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