Multiple arrests made in Mount Olive raid
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 7, 2007 2:33 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- C.J. Weaver wanted his team to be prepared for anything -- a firefight, guard dogs, chases.
So the Mount Olive police detective met with 30-plus local, state and federal law enforcement officers a few hours before Operation Clean Streets commenced.
A rainy Friday afternoon in Wayne County culminated in the arrest of several alleged drug dealers, users and illegal arms dealers.
Local officers and federal agents arrested multiple suspects on charges including 14 counts of conspiring to sell and deliver a controlled substance, eight counts of trafficking, two counts of selling and delivering controlled substances, three counts of maintaining a dwelling for the sale of controlled substances, two counts of manufacturing controlled substances, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and five counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon during afternoon raids of three residences in the Center Street area in Mount Olive.
Mount Olive police Chief Ralph Schroeder said among the most "notorious" of those arrested were Delete LeCharles Vann, 31; Rahean Lamar Robinson, 20; Rickey Terrell Thomas Ward, 24; Alexander Solshinisky Suncin, 21; and Gladys Strickland, 58.
All are currently being held in the Wayne County Jail under bonds ranging from $10,000 for Ms. Strickland and Suncin to $1 million for Vann.
In addition, more than $26,000 in property, money, firearms and three vehicles were seized, officials said
The sting was a result of an investigation that began in May after "a patrol corporal worked information out of an informant," Weaver said.
The implications were that frequent drug deals, gun sales and dog-fighting were occurring along Center Street. Schroeder said suspects had been stealing property and trading it to the drug dealers for drugs. In the past three months, Mount Olive also has recorded two homicides and two additional shootings -- one of the homicides and both shootings were drug-related, he added.
As soon as surveillance and undercover officers confirmed the allegations, Schroeder reached out to the Wayne and Duplin County Sheriff's offices, Goldsboro and Smithfield police departments, DEA and ATF.
"We have had an ongoing investigation for months," Schroeder said. "Once we confirmed the trafficking and knew these guys were carrying weight, it was time to bring in the drug squads."
So it was fitting, he said, that personnel from each of those agencies took part in Friday's roundup.
And while Weaver mapped out the strategy for "taking down some bad guys," it became clear just why they were needed.
"Now (Travis Lemont Barksdale) doesn't usually carry a firearm but his soldiers do," Weaver said during the briefing before the raids. "Rule No. 1 is we're all coming home from this. Be careful. Watch your backs. Watch your partners' backs."
Just then, the detective was interrupted by a phone call.
"Well, right now, (one of the suspects) is sitting on an ounce and a half of powder and an ounce and a half of crack," he said a moment after hanging up.
The eyes of those he was addressing said they were ready.
But there was still more work to do -- review of a few sketches of the properties, a look at several mug-shots and a step by step breakdown of how the sting needed to run.
In the hours that followed, many of the arrests Schroeder had hoped to make were made.
But there are still a few suspects on the run, he said.
Police are still searching for Barksdale, Danielle Duboris Vann, 26, and Robert Thomas Edwards, 19.
Barksdale is a 28-year-old black male, believed to be operating a four-door Cadillac Deville. Police suspect he is in possession of cocaine and possibly armed.
Edwards and Vann also are black males.
Those with information regarding their whereabouts are asked to contact the Mount Olive Police Department or any other agency involved in the sting.
Schroeder said he believes Operation Clean Streets delivered a blow to the illegal drug trade in Mount Olive and Wayne County -- a trade he feels is linked to recent homicides and break-ins around town.
"These guys have been major players in the dope business around town for a long time," he said. "This is big."
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