Five arrested in MBN drug operation

1STOCK gray jailbars DRUG ARRESTDaily Journal

Five people have been arrested and a large-scale cocaine distribution ring in Northeast Mississippi has been dismantled, authorities said Tuesday.

Samuel W. Owens, interim Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director, expects to make more arrests in the case.

Law enforcement officers simultaneously served nine search warrants February 1, leading to the arrests in connection with the continuing investigation code-named “Operation Queen Bee,” said Owens.

The suspects, with charges and bonds, are:

• Sherita Garth, 37, of Starkville, three counts of sale of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, $30,000;

• Calvin Baskin, 43, of West Point, possession of cocaine, possession of MDMA (Molly), conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, on probation with the state Department of Corrections for previous drug charges, no bond;

• Dashiki Townsend, 31, of West Point, possession of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, $5,000;

• Timothy Gilliam, 39, of Ecru, possession of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, $30,000;

• Debra Walker, 57, of Starkville, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, running a large-scale gambling operation, $5,000.

Agents seized approximately 23 ounces of cocaine with an estimated street value of $66,000 during the course of the investigation. Once the suspects were in custody, agents discovered the organization had supplied cocaine with estimated street values totaling more than $1 million, Owens said.

The investigation, led by the MBN as well as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, resulted in the seizure of approximately $40,000 in cash, seven vehicles, six firearms, three money counters and other paraphernalia used in the distribution of controlled substances, said MBN Enforcement Commander Lt. Col. Mike Perkins.

Though based in Oktibbeha County, the organization obtained large quantities of cocaine and other controlled substances from Houston, Texas, and distributed the illegal drugs to individuals in six other counties, Perkins said.

The investigation was begun by the Oktibbeha County Sheriff Department and MBN, working jointly with the DEA and ATF. And it required additional support from the Clay County and Chickasaw County sheriff departments, West Point Police Department, North Mississippi Narcotics Task Force and Mississippi Highway Patrol.

“Because of the hard work of multiple agencies in a yearlong investigation, a major drug organization and a large-scale gambling operation were shut down, making the residents of Oktibbeha County safer,” said Sheriff Steve Gladney.

“Working daily with the MBN in combating the drug dealers in Clay County continues to benefit Clay County residents,” Sheriff Eddie Scott added.

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