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SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 2007
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Lawrence begins issuing drug indictments on 4/20

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — Lawrence County law enforcement officials wrapped up a multi-agency initiative to decrease illegal prescription drug use and sales in the county, with nine arrests early Friday morning.

After weeks of undercover work as part of Operation Rx, officials had enough evidence for multiple drug charges to go before a grand jury, said Law-rence County Drug Task Force Commander Amard Martin.

Agents began issuing indictments Friday just after midnight.

"We were originally going to wait until this weekend to round them up, but we decided to do it early because it was April 20th, four-twenty," he said. "We wanted to send out the message that if you're going to smoke dope, we're going to take you to jail."

Many cannabis users associate 4:20 p.m. or 4/20 (April 20) with the time or day to celebrate and smoke marijuana.

Though Operation Rx was focused mostly on prescription drugs, the investigation led to other drug arrests including marijuana, said Martin.

Law enforcement officials made the following arrests Friday:

  • Billy Delane Terry, 34, 263 Lawrence County 283, Courtland, three counts of distribution of a controlled substance. Terry remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $30,000 bond.

  • Joy Michelle Terry, 33, of 263 Lawrence County 283, Courtland, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance. Terry remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $20,000 bond.

  • Robert William Montgomery, 42, of 15824 Main St., Town Creek, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance. Montgomery remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $20,000 bond.

  • Hugh Wayne Liles, 46, of 71 Lawrence County 351, Moulton, distribution of a controlled substance. Liles remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $10,000 bond.

  • Rodney Doyle Mote, 40, of 160 Lawrence County 557, Trinity, distribution of a controlled substance and trafficking morphine. Mote remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $70,000 bond.

  • Amy Lashay Smith, 25, of Decatur, one count of distribution of a controlled substance. The address on Smith's driver license given to deputies was incorrect, according to the homeowner at that address. Her actual address was unknown. Smith remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $10,000.

  • Bradley Wayne Liles, 26, of 207 Lawrence County 531, Moulton, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance. Liles remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $20,000 bond.

  • Samuel Benton Jones, 77, of 8130 Lawrence County 214, Trinity, distribution of a controlled substance. Jones remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $10,000 bond.

  • Lois Priest, 54, of 99 Lawrence County 525, Moulton, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance. Priest remained in Lawrence County Jail on Friday in lieu of $20,000 bond.

    All those arrested sold drugs to undercover narcotics agents, said Martin.

    The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, Town Creek Police Department and the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board assisted in the investigation.

    Authorities have made 20 drug arrests under Operation Rx, including a Moulton police officer. Octavius Hamilton, 43, of 112 Web St., Moulton, allegedly bought illegal prescription drugs from an undercover narcotics agent in the Midway Piggly Wiggly parking lot March 30.

    The state attorney general's office charged him with possession of a controlled substance, and the Moulton City Council fired him April 9.

    Operation Rx began in January when Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell took office. During the new sheriff's campaign, he promised to crack down on drug-related crime in the county.

    "(Mitchell) has put a huge emphasis on drugs. Plus, when a new sheriff comes in, the morale is always high," said Martin. "With the help of Sheriff Mitchell, the task force will continue to operate and put drug dealers in jail."

    The Lawrence County Drug Task Force was formed in 1991 with five agents. Increases in homeland security funding since 1999 have created budget decreases for the task force. By 2003, the number of agents had dwindled to two. Currently, the task force consists of Martin and Agent Dennis Sharp.

    The sheriff and other law enforcement officials in Lawrence County are seeking funds to rebuild the task force, said Martin.

    "I'm all for homeland security, but I believe they need to really look at the problems we have," he said. "Some places have terrorist problems, but our county has a drug problem. The focus should be on that."

    Martin said many of the task force's investigations stem from resident complaints about drug activity in their communities.

    "We want them to know that their information does count and does help in our investigations," he said. "This is their county, and we want them to get involved."

    He urged anyone with information regarding drug activity in Lawrence County to call the task force at 974-2534.

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