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New crime unit starts with bang
3 investigations yield 9 arrests in first 2 days of operation
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The Statesboro-Bulloch Crime Suppression Team’s mission statement says its key tasks are:
1.    Provide proactive, focused law enforcement activities aimed at reducing major crime trends countywide.
2.    Increase law enforcement presence in areas with higher-than-normal crime statistics.
3.    Investigate drug-related violations, which tend to breed other types of criminal activity.
4.    Serve arrest warrants on wanted persons in an effort to ensure that recidivist criminals cannot continue their criminal activities.

A new joint unit with Bulloch County sheriff’s deputies and Statesboro police officers was formed Tuesday, and it didn’t take long to make its presence known.
The Statesboro-Bulloch Crime Suppression Team formed after Sheriff Lynn Anderson and Public Safety Director Wendell Turner signed a memorandum of understanding.
The team is a consolidation of the sheriff’s Drug Suppression Team, the Sheriff’s Targeted Enforcement Patrol and the Police Department’s Crime Suppression Unit. Fully staffed, the Crime Suppression Team consists of five sheriff’s investigators; three sheriff’s deputies, including a K-9; and four police officers.
The new unit “exists to put unceasing pressure on criminals of all types who prey on the innocent citizens of Statesboro-Bulloch County,” according to a Crime Suppression Team news release issued Wednesday.
By its second day of operation, the unit already had conducted three investigations that resulted in nine arrests.
The highest-profile of these incidents started when investigators tried to purchase marijuana at The Avenue at Southern on Georgia Avenue late Tuesday afternoon. They initiated a traffic stop on the seller, later identified as Terrel Roberson, 25, of Jenk Hill Road in Sylvania, but he fled the stop, striking two law enforcement vehicles, causing “very minor damage to both,” according to the news release.
Law enforcement vehicles gave chase, and the pursuit ended when Roberson fled on foot into El Jalapeno Mexican Restaurant, 711 S. Main St., and tried to blend in with customers, the release says.
Crime Suppression Team members Jared Shababy, Mark Guarino and Marcus Nesmith apprehended Roberson, according to the release. Roberson was charged with criminal attempt to distribute marijuana, aggravated assault on a peace officer (four counts), aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, fleeing and attempting to elude officers, and leaving the scene of an accident.
Also arrested was Sharece Woods, 20, of Rucker Lane, whom officers described an associate of Roberson’s. Woods also was apprehended inside the restaurant, and was found with less than 1 ounce of marijuana, the release says. She was charged with possession of marijuana (less than 1 ounce.)
Crime Suppression Team members then served a search warrant for an apartment in the 100 block of Rucker Lane, where marijuana, cash and two firearms were recovered, according to the release.
Also located in the apartment were J’Vaughn Payne, 19, of Rucker Lane; Bianca Pittman, 24, of Sunset Court in Decatur, Ga.; and Phillip Walton, 18, of Noketchee Drive in Athens, Ga.
All three were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and Payne and Walton were also charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
In a separate incident, investigators working near the Georgia Southern University campus saw three men apparently smoking marijuana in a vehicle. Deputy 1st Class Randall Norman conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on Fair Road, and a felony amount of marijuana was discovered, the release says.
Arrested were Michael Johnson, 24, of Davis Street in Sylvania; Matthew Gatson, 26, of Waters Grove Road in Sylvania; and Cornelius Roberts, 22, of Cab Road in Sylvania. All three were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Johnson was also charged with driving with an expired tag, and Gatson and Roberts were each charged with a probation violation.
On Wednesday, investigators conducted a “knock and talk” at an apartment in Copper Beech Townhomes and obtained a search warrant. The search revealed marijuana, cash and packaging material for the marijuana, the release says.
Raymontye Barlow, 22, of Copper Beech Townhomes, was charged with possession of marijuana (misdemeanor) and tampering with evidence. The news release says the tampering charge came from Barlow trying to flush the marijuana down a toilet. The investigation into this apartment continues, according to the news release.
Anderson and Turner said in the release that they believe the activities of the Statesboro-Bulloch Crime Suppression Team “will continue to improve the safety of the citizens of Statesboro and Bulloch County in the future.”

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