10/06/11 — Arrests made in morning Mount Olive raid

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Arrests made in morning Mount Olive raid

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 6, 2011 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Police used a "flash-bang" grenade to disorient residents of a mobile home early this morning to signal the start of a pre-dawn roundup of suspected street-level drug dealers in the town.

Assisted by Wayne and Duplin county sheriff's deputies, officers began the hunt for 13 suspects and had about a third of them in custody by shortly after 7 a.m.

The suspects were brought to the police station to be interviewed before being taken to the Wayne County Jail.

Officers staged at the police station about 5 a.m. for a briefing and assignments. The first officers left shortly after 6 a.m. to execute a no-knock search warrant at the mobile home where the flash-bang was used.

"One was a search warrant and all of the rest were arrest warrants," Chief of Police Brian Rhodes said. "The search warrant was a no-knock search warrant. The reason we did that is that we knew there were guns in the house and we did that for officers' safety. That is the only way you can get a no-knock search warrant, for officers' safety."

The suspect was arrested without any problems, Rhodes said.

Just as the raid began, the sound of shotgun fire began echoing across town. However, the gunfire had nothing to do with the raid -- the shots were fired by duck hunters who were at a swamp just east of town.

"My understanding is that (officers) called rescue just to get (the suspect) checked out because of some possible burns," Rhodes said. "When the flash-bang was deployed, he was too close. He stepped in about time it went off."

Most of the suspects being sought this morning are Mount Olive residents.

"One is from Duplin County, but he is up here more than he is in Duplin County," Rhodes said. "There is one that has moved to Clayton, one is in jail and one is in Dudley. We mainly targeted crack cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy.

"We are just trying to reduce street-level drug dealers. We were assisted in the investigation by the Duplin County Sheriff's Office, Warsaw Police Department and the Smithfield Police Depart-ment. What we did, we targeted individuals selling controlled substances, street level, you know standing on the street corner."

The operation began back in March and included undercover drug buys and surveillance across the town.

"We want to extend our sincere thank you to the agencies for their assistance," Rhodes said. "It takes cooperation from the different agencies in order to have a successful operation. If it hadn't been for them we couldn't have done it.

"It is something that we are going to continue to do. We are going to make every effort that we can to try to eradicate drugs. It is going to take more help than just what the Police Department can do. We need the help of the citizens, the town and other agencies."

Rhodes also thanked Town Manager Charles Brown and the town board for their support of the Police Department.

Rhodes said that people can call the police station at 658-5031 and select option two or call Crime Stoppers at 735-2255 if they have a tip about drugs or other criminal activity.