Five more Sampson County residents were caught up in a drug net that was lowered last week following a six-month investigation that is now culminating with the issuing of warrants and the arrests of dozens of individuals.
Those taken into custody over the weekend bring the total now to 25 jailed as part of Operational Candy Crush. At least 15 more are expected to be hauled in as part of the drug campaign, which has seen the issuance of over 40 warrants through the investigation. Sheriff’s officials have said many of those targeted in the operation were identified through tips from concerned citizens.
The latest to be arrested are: Hedrick Imes, 37, 11 Decarlo Lane, Ivanhone; Bobby Lee Walker, 28, 307 Byrd St., Clinton; Demars Crowell, 40, 7859 Timothy Road, Dunn; Joshua Carl Westbrook, 25, 226 Juniper Road, Clinton; Joshua Dale Smith, 20, 3650 Honeycutt Road, Salemburg.
All five were taken into custody throughout the day Friday.
Imes was charged with 10 felonies and one misdemeanor. His offenses include trafficking in opiates by sell, trafficking in opiates by delivery, trafficking in opiates by possession, two counts selling marijuana, two counts delivering marijuana and three counts maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance. In addition he was charged with the misdemeanor offense of possession of marijuana. He was jailed under a $65,000 bond and is scheduled to make Sampson County District Court on Oct. 25. Reports show 15.9 grams of marijuana was seized.
Walker was charged with two counts selling cocaine and two counts delivering cocaine, all felonies, and jailed under a $30,000 secured bond. His court date was initially scheduled for Friday but no disposition was reported. Officers noted in reports that 6.30 grams of crack cocaine was seized.
Crowell was charged with two counts selling cocaine, two counts delivering marijuana and one count of possession of cocaine, all felonies. He was placed under a $30,000 bond and given an Oct. 25 court date. Officers reported seizing 1 gram of crack.
Westbrook was placed under a $15,000 bond for charges of sell of a Schedule II controlled substance and delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, both felonies. His initial court date was set for last Friday, Oct. 11 but no disposition was available. Reports show officers seized 4 dosage units of opium.
Smith was charged with two felonies — selling marijuana and delivering marijuana — and was placed under a $5,500 bond. His court date is slated for Oct. 25.
In an interview last week about Candy Crush, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton acknowledged the drug epidemic that has tightened around Sampson and he pointed to the dozens of arrests — and the variety of drugs seized and charges leveled — in the latest operation as an example of the problems.
But he also tipped his hat to citizens, noting their tips and complaints have been instrumental in helping officers launch investigations that work to take drugs off the street and put those selling them behind bars.
“I cannot stress enough,” Thornton said in the interview, “that the information citizens provide is vital; their help is often key.”
Noting that prescription medications and meth use are the top two drugs he receives the most complaints about, the sheriff pointed to the number of calls received at the Sheriff’s Department every day as a good thermometer of the problem and citizens’ desire to be rid of it.
“If our phones aren’t ringing, I’d be worried, but they do ring, all the time, and most of those calls are from residents offering us information about drugs in this county,” Thornton said.
Officers are continuing to level charges in Candy Crush. Watch the Sampson Independent for the latest arrests or check out our website at www.clintonnc.com.