A 5-year-old girl passed by the open door of a dilapidated mobile home with an up-to-date camera system on the outside as law enforcement filled the lawn and porch.
The adults inside were arrested moments later after officers discovered drug paraphernalia in the house.
Early Wednesday, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office deputies, LCSO’s Special Tactics Investigative Narcotic Group, U.S. marshals, officers with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and with Mississippi Department of Corrections came together to form three tactical groups to arrest a list of 20 “known drug dealers.”
Sheriff Eddie Hawkins said he often sees children present where his deputies make drug arrests.
“Far too often we do find kids in these homes of these drug violators, and it’s sad to see a child growing up in an environment like that,” Hawkins said. “If their parents are making a decision to use drugs, that’s their decision to make. But a child growing up in this environment doesn’t have that choice. So they’re out here growing up in this environment and this is the life that they’re living and learning.”
By 11:15 a.m. the task force had arrested 13 of the people on their list with the other seven out of state or out of town. By press time, 19 were arrested. In the arrests, LCSO also seized methamphetamine and marijuana.
As Hawkins pulled up to a blue A-frame house with trinkets and household items strung across the front lawn, he indicated he had been there within the last few months to arrest the suspect, and this was not the only instance on Wednesday where repeat offenders were arrested.
“Some people are (repeat offenders),” Hawkins said. “When they come to jail, they have the right to make bond. Once they get out on bond, they’re back on the street again and selling drugs until we can put them in prison. So, we have to get them to the court system because they’re presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”
Hawkins said the task force conducts the “drug roundups” a few times a year, and the well-oiled operation takes a well-prepared team. Not only are there officers, deputies and agents in the field with research on the suspects, but there are some back at the sheriff’s office processing the arrestees and making sure operations run smoothly.
Part of conducting the “drug roundups” early in the morning is catching the suspects in bed and not being active. One risk law enforcement takes when doing these round-ups is knowing the suspect might be armed.
“Even (Wednesday) morning, we arrested numerous people who did have firearms in their possession, and a lot of time when they’re selling drugs, that’s part of it,” Hawkins said. “We expect to find guns, and we hope we do find guns because we want to take them off the streets. These guns do enhance the penalties, so that does help us in the court system get an enhanced penalty and get them off the street.”
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