Last Smoke Screen suspect surrenders

Owens

 

The final Operation Smoke Screen suspect has surrendered to police after nearly 10 months on the lam.

After the undercover operation ended in late February with 77 arrests the first day, investigators released a wanted list for at least 30 more suspects. The list shrank throughout the year, but since July 30 David Anthony Owens had remained the only suspect not accounted for.

Police said that relatives had been uncooperative and that they believed Owens, 20, had left the area.

On Wednesday, Owens was booked into jail, where he is held on a grand jury arrest warrant.

“We’re glad to get the last person in the operation,” Sgt. Jason Vinson said of Owens’ arrest.

For seven months, undercover officers operated Cheap Cigarettes II, a pawnshop that had previously operated illegally on Peach Orchard Road. The suspects are accused of selling stolen items to undercover officers at the store.

The operation recovered 64 guns, 10 cars, numerous televisions and other electronic equipment, riding lawn mowers, yard tools, ATVs and other items.

For more than a month after the operation ended, officers worked to match stolen items to burglary reports to get the property back to its owners. A lack of serial numbers made the process difficult. Investigators said some of the items were from burglaries as far away as Jefferson County.

Many of the suspects have appeared in court.

“We feel like we made a difference,” Vinson said.

1 arrest left to make in Operation Smoke Screen
Operation Smoke Screen down to two suspects at large
6 suspects in Richmond County's Operation Smoke Screen still at large
Most stolen items from Operation Smoke Screen returned to owners
Unclaimed guns from Augusta's Operation Smoke Screen have a long journey to destruction
Undercover storefront operations prove successful for law enforcement in Richmond County, Georgia
Augusta police reveal details of huge burglary probe

More