Drug Bust

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 8, 2011

U.S. Marshals Task Force agent Clint Roberson (left) and Panola County Deputy Sheriff Earl Burdette escort Kecia Meadows from a residence in Ramsey Circle. Meadows was one of seven people arrested Thursday morning on drug related indictments. Photo by David Howell

Seven will answer drug indictments

 By David Howell

 The Panola County Sheriff’s Department and Drug Task Force arrested seven people in a drug roundup during the early morning hours Thursday.

The authorities were also actively searching for several others indicted in a grand jury earlier this summer.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We have been working on these cases since January,” Panola County Sheriff Otis Griffin said during the early morning operation.

The sheriff’s department was assisted by members of the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force as they staged before dawn Thursday to coordinate the arrests.

In addition to serving the seven indictments Thursday morning, Griffin said the team was also looking for three additional people who had outstanding arrest warrants for drug related offenses.

“We arrested two of them and are looking for the third one,” Griffin said.

The two arrested include Cortoll Mottley, who had been charged with sale of a counterfeit substance; and Markeeven Ford, who has also been charged with sale of a controlled substance, cocaine.

Authorities were still searching for the third person, Edward Morgan, 173 Sanders Road, Sardis, who has been charged with sale of a controlled substance, cocaine;

The seven picked up Thursday morning include:

•Derrick Dewayne Henderson, 15280 A Ballentine Road, Sardis, sale of a controlled substance, marijuana;

•Carl Leon Taylor, 414 Warren Street, Como, conspiracy to sell a controlled substance, marijuana;

•John Laneal Morgan, 405 Warren Street, sale of a controlled substance, marijuana;

•Damien Marque Fletcher, 30 Mary Lane, Batesville, two counts of sale of a controlled substance, cocaine;

•Kecia Meadows, 2066 Parks Place Road, Como, sale of a controlled substance, cocaine;

•Jeffrey Jones, Batesville, sale of a controlled substance; and

•Larry Odell Hibbler, Sardis, sale of a controlled substance, cocaine.

 Griffin said the six-person drug task force, which is a branch of the sheriff’s department, is effective.

“Every day we are out there working drugs,” Griffin explained after the roundup.

The sheriff also cautioned that building drug cases is delicate work.

 “We have to make multiple buys and have video and audio each time,” explained Panola County Drug Task Force Commander Mark Whitten.

The indictments mark the first major activity for the Panola County Drug Task Force since a department shake-up last December, shortly after Griffin was elected in a special election.

At that time Whitten was moved from investigator to commander’s position of Panola County Drug Task Force.

Both Griffin and Whitten stress public input is important to help combat the ever-present drug problem in the county.

“Public input is a huge part of what we do, call and let us know if you suspect drug activity,” Griffin said. “You may not see us, you may not know we are there, but we will check it out,” the sheriff continued.

To report suspicious drug activity, call the Panola County Task Force at 487-3490.

“We have a machine, you can leave a message,” Whitten said. “And you don’t have to give us your name, just your information.”