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Officers say drug hot spots rotate through areas

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Richmond County narcotics investigators often see a cycle in drug-infested neighborhoods.

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Officers used to receive complaints daily about activities at the now-closed Augusta Super Inn on Gordon Highway.   Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Officers used to receive complaints daily about activities at the now-closed Augusta Super Inn on Gordon Highway.


"The standard has been that you arrest them in one location and then (the others) pack up and move to a different location and bring in new soldiers," said Lt. Scott Gay of the Crime Suppression Unit.

East Augusta-- including East Boundary, Bethlehem and parts of Olde Town -- currently tops the Richmond County list as the most crime-saturated area, Gay said.

Harrisburg, Barton Village and Woodlake, off Windsor Spring Road, fall closely behind.

From January to August, Richmond County narcotics officers arrested 1,096 people on drug-related charges.

Gay said crack cocaine appears to be the drug of choice in Richmond County, with marijuana ranked next. Meth, which is on the rise in the county, is third.

Including only major seizures, authorities have confiscated 15 kilos of cocaine, 38 pounds of marijuana and 108 marijuana plants in 2010, and uncovered 20 meth labs.

In 1999, the county received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to target neighborhoods overrun with crime. Although Gay said neighborhoods such as Barton Village were benefiting from the Weed and Seed Initiative, the grant expired in 2005.

Authorities now rely on training from the program to crack down on Augusta's problem areas.

"We go into an area and we look for any violation and make charges, whether it be somebody not wearing a seat belt or we catch someone in possession," Gay said.

In 2009, officers used those skills to clean up the Augusta Super Inn on Gordon Highway. Deputies received five to six complaints daily, ranging from theft to drug use, at the inn, Gay said. After the sheriff's office joined forces with the licensing, fire and health departments, the inn was condemned in December 2009 because of code violations.

In the past two years, Gay said, officers used the same model to do sweeps at Red Carpet Inn, Augusta Lodge and Riverside Inn, all on Gordon Highway.

In 2007, Columbia County officers used a different strategy to clean up King Villa, off Washington Road in Appling.

Lt. Sharif Chochol, of the Columbia County sheriff's Special Operations Unit, said the neighborhood was overrun with drug activity, loitering and abandoned residences. Trash was scattered throughout the streets.

After officers moved in and eliminated the drug activity, they called on the community to clean up the rest.

"We had dumpsters brought in," Chochol said of the multiday cleanup. "We got in there with the community and really cleaned up. It went way beyond just the criminal activity part of it. We were in there cutting grass."

Columbia County investigators would not discuss current problematic neighborhoods or strategies because of ongoing investigations.

Slightly more than 200 people have been arrested on narcotics charges this year through August, Chochol said. Marijuana is the most commonly recovered drug, with others running a close second.

Reporting drug activity

RICHMOND COUNTY

Tips can be left anonymously on augustaga.gov under the Richmond County Sheriff's Office's Investigation page; at (706) 828-DRUG or at (866) 939-5050.

COLUMBIA COUNTY

Tips can be left anonymously at (706) 541-2800 or (706) 541-1044.

Comments (29) Add comment
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johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 10/05/10 - 06:17 am
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So, if the Augusta Super Inn

So, if the Augusta Super Inn was cleaned up by condemning it, why not condemn East Boundary and Barton Village and Woodlake?

The ONE thing that all of the "hot spots" listed have in common isn't poverty or ethnic concentrations, those are just symptoms, like the legal problems generated in these areas. The ONE base problem is that these areas are concentrations of subsidy people, the subculture created by the federal government and promoted by the federal government.

The federal government's efforts at social engineering are EXACTLY like every other effort they don't need to be involved in.

corgimom
48294
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corgimom 10/05/10 - 06:24 am
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Countyman won't like this

Countyman won't like this story.

And he was just saying the other day how "quiet" Barton Village is.

RoadkiII
6840
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RoadkiII 10/05/10 - 06:42 am
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Corgi, due to the nature of

Corgi, due to the nature of the entrepreneur's business they can't stand on the street corner loudly announcing their wares. They have to be quiet about it. Thus, a quiet neighborhood.

catfish20
325
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catfish20 10/05/10 - 06:43 am
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Drug test any and all who

Drug test any and all who live in Section 8 housing. That will clean it up pretty quickly.

anotherlook
124
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anotherlook 10/05/10 - 08:15 am
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Johnston.Cliff, why can't

Johnston.Cliff, why can't neighborhoods be condemned? Well, I may be wrong here but I will give it shot at trying to explain. The Super Inn, et.al. were privately owned businesses. While individual homes whether being resided in by the owners, designated as Section 8 or merely rental properties are also privately owned, they are separate units within the neighborhood. As such each individual home would have to be cited, the owner contacted, and a process begun to condemn each indiviual property within the neighborhood. The process to do this would be not only lengthy but also costly and difficult.

I think that the best approach would be to partner with concerned home owners and residents and empower them to "take back" their neighborhoods by educating them, creating an increased law enforcement presence and providing incentives for the neighborhood to participate. Incentives like installing neighborhood play areas and parks or community gardens. Celebrating community pride days with parades, cook outs, media coverage and interviews where residents can tout the great things that are going on in their neighborhood would be wonderful to see. Even bringing back the old PAL's (Police Athletic Leagues) might be a means to combat the gang presence holding these neighborhoods in thrall. Just a thought or two to try to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 10/05/10 - 08:31 am
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anotherlook, was my sarcasm

anotherlook, was my sarcasm not obvious? Does anyone think the problem at the Augusta Super Inn was solved when the business was condemned? It wasn't. It was just moved to one of the other "hot spots".
Not addressing the root cause, (poor social skills), will not change a thing. Think war on drugs, war on poverty, improving education. Government social engineering projects are about growing government, not solving problems.

Suzy Q
1
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Suzy Q 10/05/10 - 08:42 am
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Barton Village hasn't been

Barton Village hasn't been 'quiet' in better than 20 years. I knew someone who worked in a grocery store located across the hwy from that neighborhood and when it closed down she told me that the shoplifting in the store prompted the close. They were losing money hand over fist. Does anyone know if the local pizza places will still deliver there? That's generally a big indicator of how 'quiet' a neighborhood is.

Woodlake used to be a nice neighborhood, but to say it's gone downhill would be an understatement. Nice homes and well-kept yards have disappeared for the most part. Now there's bars on the windows and doors and the whole place looks generally run-down. It's not the age of the neighborhood... there are plenty of areas in West Augusta that are just as old (or older) that still look like nice places to live.

nerthus
2
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nerthus 10/05/10 - 08:44 am
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The Richmond County Sheriff's

The Richmond County Sheriff's department should have a mobile unit like a motorhome that can be moved from place to place as a portable precient. Move it to the areas that are given the problem, clean up that area then move to the next area. East Boundry needs a lot more attention and police presence.

PUPPYMOMMA
1389
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PUPPYMOMMA 10/05/10 - 08:59 am
0
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People in the neighborhoods

People in the neighborhoods says that they are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation. That's not the only reason. You don't bite the hand that feeds you. I'm sure the drug seller slips Grandma, Mom some of their ill gotten gains whether it's gas ,hair,nails,grocery money.

peonynut
2
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peonynut 10/05/10 - 09:06 am
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Gee seems to me if they know

Gee seems to me if they know where all these "hot spots" are they could do drug sweep after drug sweep and follow them around instead of just talking about it.

justus4
124
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justus4 10/05/10 - 09:36 am
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How do the drugs get into the
Unpublished

How do the drugs get into the referenced communities? What shipping arrangements allow the drugs to end up in these communities? Why are minority communities being targeted while it must be someone with resources bringing the stuff in? Stop that group and U stop much of the drugs - seems clear to me that the efforts are being improperly targeted.

Little Lamb
54136
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Little Lamb 10/05/10 - 09:58 am
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Minorities have resources,

Minorities have resources, Justus.

usafvet
3
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usafvet 10/05/10 - 10:03 am
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Justus4, you make every

Justus4, you make every article racial. No one mentions race, they only speak of entitlements, section 8, seedy, run down, drugs, or other illegal activities and you make it racial. Even the warning shots being fired, not one word of the race of the shooter, mom, or assailants, but you began talking of how the laws are used against the minorities. Now I guess it is rich republicans bringing drugs into the areas, NOT. I don't see many republicans riding around in the "pimp mobiles" with the ghetto blasters going. It is most often one of your own, wanting to be "big daddy" or "da king" or some other noble title. Please, leave us out of it.

Richmnd Cty Votr
1
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Richmnd Cty Votr 10/05/10 - 10:23 am
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If you stop the users, there

If you stop the users, there would be no need to bring it in from anywhere. The DEMAND WOULD be GONE!

AutumnLeaves
11557
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AutumnLeaves 10/05/10 - 10:40 am
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PUPPYMOMMA Tuesday, Oct. 5

PUPPYMOMMA
Tuesday, Oct. 5 8:59 AM, said:
"People in the neighborhoods says that they are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation. That's not the only reason. You don't bite the hand that feeds you. I'm sure the drug seller slips Grandma, Mom some of their ill gotten gains whether it's gas ,hair,nails,grocery money." You hit the nail on the head. The people that were shooting at me, harassing me, verbally abusing me in front of my children, making false accusations, slandering me, were not the traffickers themselves, but their co-dependents, their multiple boyfriends (most in HUD houses) and some of their local customers, who unfortunately were neighbors of mine. Nothing like finding a sheet-rock nail in your tire, twice, in your fenced in, gated yard, and the newest boyfriend of the neighbor next door making a point of asking out of the blue, "Had a lot of bad luck lately?" and informing you he had to get to work hanging sheet rock. That's what happens when you anonymously report criminal activities in your suburban neighborhood and they find out about it, anyway.

AutumnLeaves
11557
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AutumnLeaves 10/05/10 - 10:54 am
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BTW, this was not in any of

BTW, this was not in any of the neighborhoods listed above.

Quack Quack Quack
9281
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Quack Quack Quack 10/05/10 - 10:49 am
0
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"Gay said crack cocaine

"Gay said crack cocaine appears to be the drug of choice in Richmond County, with marijuana ranked next. Meth, which is on the rise in the county, is third." If we think we have a problem now, wait until Meth becomes the number one choice. This drug is by far the worst. This drug takes over a person like no other. The BAD crime rate now will sky rocket. RCSO is doing a great job busting Meth labs, but they are only scratching the surface. People drive around with labs in their cars. The fumes from making this drug are extremely toxic. They will cause damage to anyone exposed to just the fumes. In 2008, in Tenn, there were so many children taken from homes where Meth was being made and used, that they ran out of foster care homes to send them. I hope we can keep educating our children about abuse, and put a stop to this problem which is tearing our community, and nation apart.

anotherlook
124
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anotherlook 10/05/10 - 11:10 am
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Johnston.Cliff, I apologize

Johnston.Cliff, I apologize that I didn't get it. At times (probably earlier in the day) I can be a little obtuse.

Usavet, I think Justus4 may have a point. Maybe we should revise our thinking and then re-frame the problem as one that not simply involves the local or smaller distributors and users at the end of the line, but one in which we concern ourselves with the big suppliers that are using planes, ships, and trucks to bring these substances into this country or to transport it to distribution points within our borders. Maybe we should be more concerned with moneylaundering at home and illegal practices of off shore banks than with the rims on someone's box chevy. Just maybe trade sanctions or tarrifs against products from countries which distribute these drugs would motivate them to take responsibility for the incredible blight that our country is suffering.

In the meantime drug courts are a great idea. We can mandate treatment during sentencing and communities can make sources of treatment more readily accessible for those that need it i.e. Alanon, Alateen, AA, Synanon and 12 Step Recovery programs as well as residential treatment programs such as Teen Challenge, Hope House, and Hale House.

It is not just our urban areas that are being impacted. With Methamphetamine production facilities just across our southern borders and local producers in our rural areas, formerly picturesque counties are becoming wastelands as well. That has little to do with entitlement or disenfranchisement. Justus has at least one good point: if we follow the money upstream we can interrupt the flow of drugs downstream into our neighborhoods and communities.

AugustaVoter
1
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AugustaVoter 10/05/10 - 11:18 am
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I like the part of the story

I like the part of the story where "Columbia County investigators would not discuss current problematic neighborhoods or strategies because of ongoing investigations.". REALLY? What this should have said is , "Columbia County Investigators would not discuss their drug problem because it involves lots of rich people and we don't want to bite the hand that feeds our politicians!"

AugustaVoter
1
Points
AugustaVoter 10/05/10 - 11:21 am
0
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Doctors are the worst

Doctors are the worst offenders of Prescription drug abuse of any profession or category. That is Columbia County's crime problem. Not Meth or Crack. Vicodin, Zanax, and Percocet are easy to get when you have all the access in the world.

countyman
23066
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countyman 10/05/10 - 01:20 pm
0
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Columbia county has problem

Columbia county has problem with perscription drugs.. But meth and cocaine are big problems too.

Barton Village is alot quieter compared to the 90's. The back of the neighborhood is nothing but newer homes. Ask anybody who lives there in 2010 compared to the 90's. The article is about drugs and not violent crime(shootings, rapes, armed robberies) which is far worse. Drive through Barton Village at nighttime and it's not crowded like other areas in Augusta (Riverglenn, East Augusta Commons, Southside aka Dogwood Terrace, etc).

It's not surprising some of the largest neighborhoods in RC have more drug problems. East Augusta is compose of several neighborhoods and touches the part Olde Town facing it. Barton Village, Woodlake, and Harrisburg are huge neighborhoods. The pastor at Tabernacle church lives in Woodlake...

Barton Village, Woodlake, Harrisburg, and East Augusta all have nice/okay areas.

usafvet
3
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usafvet 10/05/10 - 11:43 am
0
0
Anotherlook, I like your

Anotherlook, I like your outlook and your assessment of the problem. We would solve the problem of the high end drugs if we could stop all that crosses our borders. However, I suspect that at the same time the more dreaded "crack cocaine" would become more produced and used. Not only does it destroy the user, it destroys all who are exposed to the manufacturing of it. Much of the time children are exposed to the manufacturing of it. If it didn't harm innocent people, I would consider it poetic justice every time a manufacturing site blew up and carried the involved people with it.

Cheeched
0
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Cheeched 10/05/10 - 12:27 pm
0
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They shouldn't even be

They shouldn't even be focusing on marijuana. Coke and Meth are where they should be focusing and the pill market. I know lots of people who are addicted to pills badly and they seem to be able to get them so easily the illegal way. It's sad :(

Little Lamb
54136
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Little Lamb 10/05/10 - 01:39 pm
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0
Countyman wrote: It's not

Countyman wrote:

It's not surprising some of the largest neighborhoods in RC have more drug problems.

More than what, the smallest neighborhoods? I agree that it is not surprising that the largest neighborhoods have more of anything than do the smallest neighborhoods.

Georgiais1
0
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Georgiais1 10/05/10 - 02:09 pm
0
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This is not about CC. This

This is not about CC. This story is about RC drug problems/crime neighborhoods which you have plenty of. Trying to deflect criticism to CC just proves the point and also adds a bit of class envy if you get my drift.

countyman
23066
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countyman 10/05/10 - 02:21 pm
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Uh lol? Almost half of the

Uh lol? Almost half of the article is about Columbia County. At the bottom of the article there is a number to report drug activity. I think the poster Augustavoter was responding to the statements in the article. The person might even live in Columbia County.

And please stop with this class envy stuff. The residents of Summerville/Hill/Midtown are not envious of the residents in Jones Creek.

bentman
481
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bentman 10/05/10 - 05:24 pm
0
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Does anyone want to guess

Does anyone want to guess what these neighborhoods have in common?

corgimom
48294
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corgimom 10/05/10 - 07:38 pm
0
0
"In the meantime drug courts

"In the meantime drug courts are a great idea. We can mandate treatment during sentencing and communities can make sources of treatment more readily accessible for those that need it i.e. Alanon, Alateen, AA, Synanon and 12 Step Recovery programs as well as residential treatment programs such as Teen Challenge, Hope House, and Hale House. "

Any rehab counselor, or anyone that knows an addict, will tell you that mandating treatment doesn't work.

An addict has to want to stop using in order to stop- and for most drug addicts, they don't want to stop. Even when they want to, it is very difficult for them to stop, and most of them relapse.

AA, Alateen, Al-Anon, etc are free. They meet all over the CSRA at all sorts of times. The only way they could be more accessible is to have door-to-door pickup and delivery service and run 24 hours per day.

***********************************
Jim, you say "But why do more poor people choose to use these drugs? These drugs arent cheap are they?"

Yes, they are. Quit believing the junk you see on TV. It's especially cheap when you steal goods and then turn around and fence them for drug money. One burglary can net thousands of dollars worth of goods. There are thousands of houses and stores to steal from, the supply is unlimited.

Even in the ghetto, it's easy to find something to steal for a rock of cocaine. At $5- $10 for a rock, everyone can find something worth that to steal.

When people are on welfare or unemployed due to criminal records- and that's what poor neighborhoods are filled with, welfare recipients and ex-cons- there is no incentive to stay off drugs. It's a good way to pass the time in between their criminal behavior and prison stays.

And once someone becomes addicted- and with crack and meth it doesn't take long, just a few weeks- being addicted and getting drugs becomes their job. It becomes their life.

Then there's this nonsense-"If drugs were legal they wouldnt cost so much and we could tax the drugs to help pay for mental health care of addicts." Uh huh. You mean like Oxycontin and Vicodin? Why aren't they cheap- they're legal?

The poor don't bother with Oxycontin and Vicodin- it's a lot easier and a lot cheaper to get crack and meth. They are more interested in getting the Oxy and the Vicodin to sell to others- the middle class and the rich- to support THEIR crack and meth habits.

"If you legalize drugs you will take away the profit and you will have less people selling drugs which should equal less people using drugs." You mean like alcohol and cigarettes and prescription drugs?

AutumnLeaves
11557
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AutumnLeaves 10/08/10 - 04:26 pm
0
0
Yes, like alcohol,

Yes, like alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs. If you abuse any of them and crimes result, you are held accountable for them (or supposed to be) through the legal system. If you realize you have an addiction to any of those, you are free to get help without getting in trouble with the law, if you haven't broken any laws during the addiction process. People don't usually do anything about their addictions, legal or illegal, until they are willing to do so. We should make it easier for people to make that choice to confront their own addictions, not give them more incentive to be in denial about them. I'll refrain from the other arguments for legalization at this time, because they've been covered often in these threads already.

AutumnLeaves
11557
Points
AutumnLeaves 10/08/10 - 04:31 pm
0
0
706 828 DRUG actually works?

706 828 DRUG actually works? Every time I called it in past years, it wasn't working. I guess I'll try it again if I need to, if it doesn't work, I'll try that 866 #.

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