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21 arrested in drug sweep
More suspects expected to be taken into custody Friday
0724 Black Adrian Gene
Adrian Gene Black

An early-morning drug sweep in Portal Thursday led to more than 20 arrests, with more suspects expected to be taken into custody Friday. The sting, led by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Crime Suppression Team, began just before dawn when several patrol cars - marked and unmarked - joined wreckers and transport vans at Portal Middle High School on Highway 80 West around 5:30 a.m.

After a brief gathering, officers split into teams and began waking suspects in their homes with the news that they were under arrest.

Agents entered some suspects' homes using flash-bang devices - small explosives that produce a loud bang and bright flash - to distract suspects from fleeing or possibly attacking officers.

At a home on Claudia Street, CST members shouted, "Sheriff's department! Search warrant!" as they entered. Within minutes, a man was led out in handcuffs. At another home on Pleasant Hill Road, deputies kicked in a door and used a flash-bang device, likely startling the suspects inside.

Several undisclosed items and vehicles were seized as tools in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs for forfeiture through the courts, said Bulloch County sheriff's Chief Deputy Jared Akins, who was on the scene.

He told the Statesboro Herald that the sweep began at such an early hour because suspects likely would be home at that time, and such surprise visits were safer for law enforcement. One man who was arrested was found lying on a gun in his bed, he said.

The roundup was the result of a six-month-long probe led by CST Investigator Ben Leinhard. The investigation began after several complaints made by Portal residents and local school officials.

"We appreciate such tips and listen to them," Akins said. "The complaints came from school officials, community leaders and ordinary citizens who witnessed suspected drug transactions."

CST investigators purchased prescription pills, marijuana and cocaine from suspects during the investigation.

Throughout the day, CST officers, aided by Portal police Chief Jason Sapp, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force, Statesboro police and Bulloch County sheriff's deputies, visited locations in Portal, Metter and Statesboro, serving warrants for various drug offenses and bringing arrested suspects back to the command center at the school, where transport vans waited to take them to the Bulloch County Jail.

A number of tow trucks stood by, taking turns bringing in vehicles seized during the raid.

The list of suspects to be arrested totaled over 25; more arrests are expected Friday, Akins said.

"A town like this is full of good people. I hate to see something like this. Bulloch County Sheriff Anderson would also like to thank Investigator Ben Lienhard, the lead investigator on the case, and the other CST personnel who devoted their time and effort to successfully breaking up this drug ring," Akins said.

The following people were arrested Thursday:

• Adrian Gene Black, 56, Highway 80 West, Portal - criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facilities in commission of a crime involving controlled substances.

• Karen Irene Brown, 47, Ponderosa Road, Portal - criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facilities in commission of a crime involving controlled substances.

• Walter Floyd Bunch, 22, RV Willaford Mobile Home Park, Portal - criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facilities in commission of a crime involving controlled substances.

• Adam John Deitz, 34, Pleasant Lane, Portal - marijuana purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution or sale; possession of schedule II controlled substances; possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a crime.

• Larry Finch, 75, North Lewis Street, Metter - criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facilities in commission of a crime involving controlled substances, possession of a schedule II controlled substance.

• Marica Denise Gray, 37, Claudia Street, Portal - possession/use of drug-related objects; marijuana purchase, sale, manufacture, possession or distribution.

• Lutrelle Louise Hagins, 33, Pecan Grove Mobile Home Park, Portal - marijuana purchase, sale, manufacture, possession or distribution.

• Marion Jacques Reason, 27, Claudia Street, Portal - marijuana purchase, sale, manufacture, possession or distribution.

• Travis Eric Smith, 31, Pleasant Lane, Portal - conspiracy to commit a felony, criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substances.

• Frankie Joyce Waters, 60, Bowen Road, Twin City - conspiracy to commit a felony, criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substances.

• James Malcolm Wilkes, 49, Cowboy Way, Portal - conspiracy to commit a felony, criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substances.

• Shaun Thomas Bryson, 37, Aaron Station Road, Portal - criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substances.

• Latisha Renea Chavers, 29, Pleasant Lane, Portal - marijuana purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution or sale; possession of a schedule II controlled substance; possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a felony.

• Janeika Rosha Hagins, 21, Pecan Grove Mobile Home Park, Portal - criminal attempt to commit a felony, use of communications facility in committing a felony involving controlled substances.

• Willie Edward Jones, 37, RV Willaford Mobile Home Park, Portal- sale of cocaine.

• Tina Marie Parker, 42, Pleasant Lane, Portal - criminal attempt to commit a felony, conspiracy to commit a felony, use of communication facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substances, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, failure to have prescription drugs in an original container.

• Tara Ann Rowell, 28, Roscoe Laircey Extension, Statesboro - criminal attempt to commit a felony, conspiracy to commit a felony, use of communication facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substances.

• Roy Lawrence "Larry" Smith, 81, Highway 80 West, Portal - criminal attempt to commit a felony, conspiracy to commit a felony, use of communication facility in commission of a felony involving controlled substances, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of a schedule III controlled substance.

• William Columbus Torrence, 52, Ben Grady Collins Road, Portal - marijuana purchase, sale, possession, manufacture, possession or distribution; sale of cocaine; sale of controlled substances and dangerous drugs.

• Harold Randall Washington, 27, Jessie Holloway Road, Portal - sale of cocaine, probation violation.

• Lacie Joyce West, 27, Bowen Road, Twin City - conspiracy to commit a felony, use of communications facility in committing a felony involving controlled substances.

Investigators currently are searching for Osborne Williams, 39, of Pleasant Hill Road in Portal, on charges of sale of marijuana. Anyone with information on Williams' location should contact Lienhard at (912) 764-1786.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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