The Walthourville Police Department announced Monday that Phase 1 of its undercover drug sting, named “Operation Insider,” led to the arrest of 10 suspects dealing narcotics, and arrests warrants were issued for three others, since St. Patrick’s Day.
Police Chief Bernie Quarterman said the operation is focused on street- to mid-level drug dealers in the area. Police Capt. Phillip Green and Quarterman are leading the sting.
Those arrested beginning Thursday were:
• Jeffery Louis Gintz, 59, possession of cocaine;
• Marcus Greene, 23, possession of controlled substance;
• Michael Anthony Harvey, 26, possession of control substance;
• Brandy Nicole Hendry, 25, two counts each of sale of marijuana and communication facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substance;
• Hosea Howard, 22, sale of cocaine;
• Altonia Mayfield, 53, sale of marijuana and communication facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substance;
• Jaco Levon Morris, 39, sale of marijuana;
• Robert Lee Simmons, 34, sale of cocaine and communication facility in commission of a felony involving control substance;
• Heather Dawn Walker, 32, three counts of sale of cocaine; and
• Arnold Octavies Williams, 42, sale of cocaine.
Warrants were issued for: Francine Mayfield (sale of marijuana), Lewis T. Richardson (possession of cocaine) and Avea D. Johnson (sale of marijuana and sale of cocaine).
The city received information in October and November that dealers were attempting to make Walthourville a drug haven again.
“We originally thought it was a rumor because it was not visually apparent at the time,” Quarterman said. “However, after undercover surveillance and investigations were conducted, facts revealed that dealers were attempting to make this area a place accessible for illegal drug use and sales.”
The police chief said he addressed the issue with Mayor Daisy Pray and Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Green and the City Council. They agreed a task force needed to be organized to stop the criminal activity.
Walthourville police investigators and other law enforcement agents placed surveillance on several suspects and conducted undercover purchases from several drug dealers.
“We reached out for outside assistance; however, due to the severity of the situation, time was not on our side,” Quarterman said.
According to Quarterman, it was clear the dealers felt that if they were not seen on the street corners, it would be OK to sell narcotics.
“We will not tolerate illegal sales or use of controlled substances in the city of Walthourville,” he said. “It is a shame that we still have these criminally minded dealers that have no concern for our children’s future, while dealing and/or using drugs around them. The investigation revealed that many of these drug deals were conducted while in the presence of the offenders’ own children. I will ask for our court system to send a very strong message on the dealing and/or use of drugs in our community.”
The chief added, “Every effort is being made to clean up our city as well as doing our part to assist in the joint efforts throughout our county. It is a known fact that the involvement, dealing with or mere consumption of illegal control substance tends to end in violence. This takes a team effort.”