By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – Authorities arrested more than 20 indictees, mostly in Union County, on drug charges Monday.
The New Albany Police Department, Union County Sheriff Department, Mississippi Department of Corrections and the U.S. Marshal Service participated in the roundup.
“We had right at 30 on the list,” said Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards. “All of them for selling drugs – cocaine, marijuana, prescription drugs.
“We’ve got them all the way from Jericho to Cornersville,” he added, noting tiny communities at the east and west ends, respectively, of the county. “And we have a few that are in other counties.”
“Operation Déjà vu” began about 5 a.m.
“We try to start early and hit as many places as we can before daylight, because once the word gets around and they start talking to each other, it becomes more difficult,” said New Albany Police Chief David Grisham, for whom this was likely the last such mass sweep before his June 30 retirement.
“Back before we had cell phones, it was a lot easier to get them rounded up,” he said.
New Albany Police Corporal Stuart Dodds said, “When we knock on the doors, the majority of them know; they don’t even ask questions. The ones that do, we show them what we have on them, and they put their heads down and come on with us.
“You have one or two occasionally that want to try something,” Dodds added, “but the majority of the time everything goes smooth.”
From early morning, suspects – many in clothing they might have worn to bed – were walked, hands bound with handcuffs or zip ties, into the Union County Jail and Justice Court. One woman wore a lime-green shirt avowing, “Work hard; play hard.”
Some indictees were arrested at work. Police and sheriff officers rode to a Pontotoc factory to pick up one, who was already on parole from multiple previous convictions. After they presented the arrest warrant, plant officials called the employee to the front office, where officers declared the latest charge against him and quietly slipped two linked sets of handcuffs on him so that the massive man’s hands would be securely but not painfully confined.
“How’d I get a sale charge?” he protested. “I ain’t sold no drugs.”
Later in the Union County Justice Courtroom he pleaded to law enforcement officials, “I’m trying to do the right thing. I been trying to stay out of y’all’s way.”
Told that his prior convictions could net him habitual offender status and a life sentence, he sobbed openly.
“I can’t handle that,” he said as he was escorted toward the jail.
Some indictees were so familiar with the arrest process, they seemed almost comfortable with it. One was even more nonchalant.
“One said, ‘How many charges you got against me?’” Dodds recalled. “They told him it was three counts, and he laughed and said, ‘They missed a bunch.’”