196 arrested in Richmond County drug sweeps

Deputies have arrested 196 people over the past week as they've conducted street-level drug sweeps across Richmond County.

Beginning July 14, deputies from the narcotics and crime-suppression divisions began making low-level arrests in "hot spot" drug areas such as Harrisburg, Turpin Hill, Bethlehem, Sand Hills, Washington Road and Meadowbrook Drive, said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Robert Partain.

The raids yielded about 1 pound of loose marijuana and several large marijuana plants, an ounce of cocaine, $3,000 in cash and several firearms, and Lt. Partain said authorities hope for more by way of information.

"We made 148 drug cases that we consider either users or street-level distributors," Lt. Partain said. "We also are able to use information we obtained from a lot of these arrests to find out, OK, where are they getting drugs in these communities so that we can start targeting those particular locations?"

Almost 50 others were arrested on outstanding warrants and other crimes, he said.

Lt. Partain said police were attempting to gauge where drug action and distribution were happening in the community and to address complaints by residents of drug use in their areas.

"A lot of the street-level drug activity that people see in their community, we were targeting to try to deter some of it," he said. "We aren't necessarily going to stop it, but were just trying to deter for a period of time. Then we can try to address the issues."

In Harrisburg, an arrest was made at one of the three properties targeted in the Fourth of July protest march against absentee landlords and drug activity.

Lt. Partain said deputies spotted a man in the yard at 1841 Watkins St., whom they recognized "from an occasion in the past." When they tried to talk to him, he bolted into the house, he said.

Deputies retrieved him and found he had a small amount of marijuana on him, about enough to roll a cigarette, Lt. Partain said.

Nicodemus Lorenzo Barnes, 30, who is not one of the tenants of the duplex, was charged with a misdemeanor, the lieutenant said.

Staff Writer Johnny Edwards contributed to this article.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.