Sheriff’s Department arrests two in separate cases

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 19, 2020

Investigators with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department arrested a man at his Poplarville home for allegedly distributing a controlled substance and in a separate case arrested one the department’s own corrections officers for allegedly bringing contraband into the jail.
Sheriff David Allison said one of the cases involved a four month long investigation into the alleged distribution of drugs in the county. Initial investigation into the complaint determined that 54-year-old Gary Varnado of 46 Hodnett Lane, Poplarville was working with co-conspirators in a large scale drug distribution operation.
The investigation gathered enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for Varnado and search his home.
On March 12, investigators served that warrant and in the search of his home found close to three pounds of methamphetamine. Investigators also found digital scales and plastic baggies, which are indicative of the repackaging and distribution of illegal narcotics, Allison said.
Varnado was arrested for aggravated trafficking of a controlled substance and Allison said that he expects the other members of Varnado’s distribution operation to be arrested as the investigation continues.
In a separate case that began about a month ago, investigators and corrections officers at the Lenoir Rowell Corrections Facility began receiving anonymous information that a corrections officer had been bringing contraband into the jail. Over the course of the past three weeks, that information alleged that an employee known only as “Jesse” was responsible.
Between March 13 and 15 investigators discovered cellphones, tobacco products and marijuana in various zones within the jail. Continued investigation into the case identified 21-year-old Jesse J. Pernell of 12 Restertown Rd., to allegedly be responsible for those items coming into the jail, leading to his arrest for two counts of introducing contraband into a correctional facility on March 16.
Allison would like to thank the community for providing tips to his department and his personnel for successfully investigating these cases.
“Even though we hate to have to arrest one of our own, we will not tolerate this conduct or activity from any of our employees,” Allison said.

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