Local residents plead guilty to intent

Published 2:25 pm Friday, August 12, 2011

Two Picayune residents have pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, which at the time of their arrest included more than 180 pounds of the drug.

According to documents filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, 35-year-old Omar Nelson and 37-year-old Sirvetus Ratcliff, both of Picayune, were arrested in March of this year after an investigation showed the two men were acquiring large amounts of marijuana from a contact in Texas, before bringing it back to Picayune and distributing it in the area.

The documents state that an investigator with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, with assistance from Drug Enforcement Agency agents, arrested Ratcliff at his home on Feb. 28. During that arrest the agents and officers could detect the odor of marijuana coming from the home, prompting agents to secure a search warrant for the home.

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During the search of Ratcliff’s home, located at 301 B S. Blanks Ave., agents found two small baggies of marijuana, two digital scales and a loaded .38 caliber revolver, the records state. Surveillance and other investigative techniques led to a search warrant being issued for Nelson’s home as well, located at 4 Pawnee Lane. The records state during the search 182.72 pounds of marijuana was found in the home along with a 9 mm semi automatic rifle.

A search warrant was also served on Nelson’s business, TKO Mafia Entertainment, located at 451 Fannie Ave., where investigators found a digital scale, money counter, loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun and a heat sealer, the court records state.

After his arrest and advisement of his Miranda rights Ratcliff cooperated with investigators, telling them that the marijuana recovered from Nelson’s home was in fact his, acquired from a contact in Texas on Feb. 27, the records state. In that court record Ratcliff is described as issuing a statement to investigators that he and Nelson had been working together to acquire and sell marijuana in the Picayune area since the fall of 2010.

Chief Investigator Donnie Saucier with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department said both Ratcliff and Nelson have pleaded guilty to the charge of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and could face a maximum sentence of 20 years.

“These guys weren’t selling dime bags of weed, they were selling pounds at a time,” Saucier said.

The initial investigation lasted about a year and ended in the arrest of Nelson and Ratcliff, two major distributors of marijuana in the Picayune area, Saucier said. He said the operation appeared to be using the recording studio as a venue to repackage and distribute the drug. Saucier said their arrest and subsequent guilty plea has put a major dent in the distribution of marijuana in the Picayune area.