Drug roundup was unique experience

Published 9:37 am Friday, June 12, 2015

I’m a big fan of reality television shows “Cops” and “Jail.” However, you rarely get the opportunity to see all the inner workings of what goes into operations such as drug roundups.

Now I know. I got the opportunity to ride along Wednesday morning with the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Haley as drug suspects were rounded up and hauled off to jail. Along with Sheriff’s Office personnel, the roundup included folks from Probation and Parole and Rayburn Correctional Center.

I must admit I didn’t know what to expect. I figured some suspects would likely put up a little resistance, and that would have made for a great photo opportunity. But everybody who was taken into custody was compliant and went along peacefully.

The roundup was for people who sold crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and pills to undercover agents during an investigation I was told lasted for eight months.

Of course, they all claimed their innocence. Some didn’t want their photo taken and hid their faces. More than a few looked like death warmed over and you had to wonder how someone could reach those depths. Many lived in filth with trash strewn around the yard. Others had kittens and chickens living at will on the front porch.

A total of 16 people were apprehended in the roundup on various charges.

There were two teams, which crisscrossed the parish. The teams were led by Det. Jason Garbo and Det. Steven Adcox. Their teams moved swiftly and deliberately. When they arrived at their various destinations, they spoke matter-of-factly to those who answered the door.

At the first stop at a trailer up a rutted gravel road in Mount Hermon, suspect Owen Tufts Jr. was reportedly away working in Covington. However, deputies contacted him, and Tufts said he would eventually turn himself in to law enforcement once he returned.

It was at that residence where a pit bull was guarding his territory. I thought the dog was chained up beside the trailer until it made a beeline toward the front door and turned and started snarling at deputies. Deputies had their fingers on their pepper spray canisters, and all I had was my camera. Eventually, a female emerged from the residence and chained the dog down the hill.

“Sooner or later, we’ll get them on a traffic stop and the officer will see a warrant out for them wherever they go,” Haley said. “Time is really on our side. We can wait them out.”

Pine’s Zacharia Crain was the next one to be apprehended. After a prolonged presence at the front door of his grandmother’s residence, which was overgrown with weeds, Crain eventually exited the premises in handcuffs. Officers found marijuana in his room.

The third stop led to the arrest of Pine’s Rachel Gerald at 8:45 a.m. Trash piled up on the side of the home, and chickens and kittens had their run of the place. A pit bull was in the residence, but gave officers no trouble as far as I could see from outside.

Brie Ramsey was picked up at her residence on North Border Drive. Of course, she claimed to be innocent of all charges and sobbed as officers hauled her off to jail.

After regrouping around 9 at the Bogalusa sub-station, officers headed over to 915 Long St. in Bogalusa where they got a two-fer. Radonna Jackson was said to be hiding on a closet as officers arrived. Jason Smith was at the residence and was brought out disheveled and shirtless. He was the most pitiful-looking suspect I witnessed on Wednesday. He didn’t have much to say to officers as they led him to the car.

Jackson and Smith were picked up at 10 a.m. After checking another location in Bogalusa for a suspect who was not at the location, the operation concluded at approximately 10:30.

It was an eye-opening experience for me. It was an experience I will remember. It just bothers me to see how people can allow their demons to overcome them and give in.

Kids on bicycles drove by Jackson and Smith’s residence when they were being arrested. Hopefully they saw what the evils of drugs can do to people and steer clear.

The roundup was certainly an education.

Randy Hammons is a staff writer for the Daily News. He can be reached by calling 985-732-2565 or by email at randy.hammons@thebogalusadailynews.com.