• 72°

Picayune police make arrests involving a dangerous new form of heroin

Numerous arrests were made recently as part of the police department’s three phase drug offensive to keep drugs off the streets of Picayune.

News reports from in and around Chicago, Ill., state that there is a new form of heroin even more dangerous than the original. The new drug has a powerful pain killer combined with the heroin and took the lives of more than 130 people in the past few weeks, according to an USA Today article.

Picayune Police Chief Jim Luke said that his department recently seized some of that drug coming into the city. Rosie L. Martin, 66, of 6917 S. Carpenter, Chicago Ill., and Dorothy Robertson, 64, 808 E. Sixty First St., Chicago, Ill., were both arrested on Interstate 59 just before exit 6 into Picayune. The two were found to be carrying heroin, according to Picayune police.

Investigators learned of the pair’s arrival in Hattiesburg on June 20 and were waiting for the two suspects the next day as they approached the city of Picayune, Luke said.

As the traffic stop was performed, Rosie Martin attempted to destroy the evidence, the report states. However, two smaller bags of heroin were recovered from her person along with a small bag of the drug located in the front passenger area, the report states.

Martin had previous charges for sale and manufacture of drugs, Luke said. Also arrested in the incident were Henry L. Martin, 63, of 505 N. Abrams Ave., and Michael Durant, 48, of 523 Fifth St., both of Picayune, the report states. All suspects were charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, according to the report.

“The Picayune narcotics team activity coincided with the DEA heroin raid performed in Chicago, Texas and Ohio where DEA officers made dozens of arrests for the distribution of the deadly heroin drug,” Luke said. “Picayune Narcotics Unit has developed more leads on other suspects involved and will continue to follow these leads until all are arrested.”

In an unrelated incident, two suspects were arrested May 27 after a traffic stop in the vicinity of the River Ridge Cinema 4. Those arrests lead to the discovery of narcotics.

Officers observed an attempted drug transaction in the parking lot of the cinema. The suspects, identified as Zachary Labs, 26, of 49 Lang Rd., and James Barney, 27, of 158 George Mitchell Rd., Carriere, attempted to flee the scene to avoid arrest, according to a press release from the Picayune Police Department.

A traffic stop was conducted on the vehicle for reckless driving and no turn signal as it was leaving the area, the release states. As officers questioned the suspects, both seemed nervous and were removed from the vehicle for officer safety, according to the release. Officers determined there was marijuana in the vehicle and also found a large amount of crystal methamphetamine, several baggies believed to be used to package narcotics and a glass pipe believed to be used to smoke the meth, the report states. Officers also found a digital scale and plastic type spoon believed to be used to measure the narcotics for sale, the report states.

Labs was charged as a habitual offender and with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute within 1,500 feet of a cinema, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia and open beer. Barney was charged with possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute within 1,500 feet of a cinema, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, open beer, reckless driving, no turn signal, no seat belt and driving while license suspended.

The release states that Labs is suspected to be involved as a high ranking member of a gang located in Pearl River County that transports and distributes meth. His arrest will lead to other arrests as a small part of an investigation by the Picayune Narcotics Unit, the release states.

Another incident on June 22 involved the Picayune Narcotics Unit performing a patrol in an area of the city believed to be a center for drug activity, according to another press release from the Picayune Police Department.

The unit observed Alvin C. Trovllier, 21, of 102 Harry St., traveling on Betsy Drive, the report states. The release states that Trovllier is “a well known narcotics offender.” Investigators noticed Trovllier was not wearing his seat belt and failed to use his turn signal as he turned on to Martin Luther King Boulevard where he sped away to avoid arrest, the release states. During the traffic stop investigators noticed Trovllier’s nervousness and a strong smell of burnt marijuana.

A search was performed on the vehicle in an attempt to locate the marijuana, at which time investigators found 16 bags of the drug packaged for sale, the release states. A larger bag of marijuana was also found in a hidden compartment behind the glove box of the car, the release states. Trovllier was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, the release states.

These operations are an effort to reinstate Picayune’s previous status as a place drugs are not welcome, Luke said. Before Hurricane Katrina introduced new people into the population, residents knew that drugs were not welcome here, Luke said. Now, new residents of the city need to be informed of the department’s stance, Luke said.

Luke wants those new residents to be aware of the three phase drug offensive he implemented before the storm and that drug dealers are not welcome here, he said.

“We don’t tolerate that here. Therefore, in the coming days I will outline a plan to send a message out that Picayune is not a place that you can bring, introduce or sell drugs,” Luke said. “This is just a strong example of a commitment to keep drugs out of our community under the direction of Commander Holly Krantz.”

Luke asks the community to pray for the Picayune Police Department and show them support as they enforce this initiative and in future operations.

“A strong stance against drugs is necessary so that our children and grandchildren can grow up in a drug free and safe community,” Luke said.