Task force busts 9 for drugs

Published 4:41 pm Saturday, June 16, 2012

The 17th Judicial Circuit’s Drug Task Force arrested nine individuals in Sumter County Friday as part of a nearly year long undercover operation.

“We’ve got nine so far and we’ve got a few more we’re going to pick up,” Clint Sumlin, commander of the task force, said.

Sumlin indicated that 14 warrants were issued as part of the operation and the remaining five individuals connected with the busts would be rounded up soon.

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The sweep began at approximately 9:30 a.m. Friday with arrests coming in Cuba, York, Livingston and Bellamy.

“We’re just doing arrest warrants. But we have seized a gun and some cash and so far we have seized one vehicle, a 97 Ford Expedition,” Sumlin said.

The task force in conjunction with the ABC Board, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department, the York Police Department, the Livingston Police Department and the University of West Alabama Campus Police Department arrested York residents Frederick Sturdivant, Reynundo Sturdivant and Antonio Lamar Burton, Bellamy residents Chris Wiley, Dane Giles and Shirone Giles, Livingston residents Willie Lockett and Darius Maye and Cuba resident Michael Jeremy Hill on distribution charges. The task force also arrested a 10th man they encountered during the sweep who was found to have active warrants out for his apprehension.

“It was just crack and marijuana. It was part of an ongoing undercover operation in Sumter County that has been going on for the past year,” Sumlin said. “We’ve used undercover agents as well as confidential informants. Every law enforcement agency in Sumter County helped.”

“It’s an undercover operation they had been conducting over there for several months. Today was kind of the culmination of that. The last time I talked to Clint, they had nine of the 14 individuals they had warrants for in custody and picked up another individual they came in contact with who had active warrants on him,” District Attorney Greg Griggers said.

Griggers pointed to the sweep as another indication of the effectiveness the task force has had in its 10 months of operation. Since forming in August 2011, the 17th Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force has created hundreds of drug cases around west Alabama.

“It has been outstanding. We’re probably getting close to 400 cases now, if not more, that have been made in those 10 months. We’ve been a whole lot more aggressive and proactive in respect to drugs,” Griggers said. “That’s not to knock any agency in the circuit. All agencies make an effort to try and be proactive in respect to drugs. But funding and manpower are issues. The task force fills that void. Out there everyday with that being their only responsibility, the results are starting to show. It has been a good thing and it is a thing we definitely need to continue. It has already made a difference and the impact will be even better the longer it is able to exist.”