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Posted: March 6, 2009 12:30 a.m.

SIU nets 3 in separate drug busts

February lucrative month for the unit

Newton County Special Investigation Unit conducted three major busts in February, removing marijuana and cocaine dealers off the streets of Newton County.

On Feb. 11, investigators from the SIU arrested 42-year-old Tommy Lee Smith, known around Newborn as Superman. After requests from several of the Newton County Commissioners, who had received complaints from their constituents of drug activity in the area, investigators began looking closely at Smith, who lives in the area of The Settlement on Valley Street.

When commissioners requested SIU look into it, they were already way ahead of the game, having made several purchases of cocaine from Superman already. After speaking with Sheriff Ezell Brown, who was present for the arrest, SIU went to his home and executed a search warrant for his home, both inside and out.

On the day of the arrest Smith's home was so cluttered SIU was unable to locate any narcotics, but undercover agents had previously video of hand-to-hand buys by undercover agents.

Superman was already on probation for cocaine-related crimes and is currently at the Newton County Detention Center being held on charges of probation violation awaiting a hearing on the new charges, which are two counts of sale of cocaine.

"Everybody came to him for cocaine," said Lt. Phillip Bradford. "But on the 11th the sheriff threw some of his law enforcement kryptonite at Superman. He'll have to answer for these charges. He flew under the radar for years, but we were never able to get him."

"The wheels of justice grind slow but boy, do they grind."

On Feb. 19, Jonathan Lightner, 19, was the target of the SIU investigation. A big dealer of marijuana on Brown Bridge Road, according to Bradford, undercover investigators had made a number of purchases from him. He also reportedly dabbled in the sale of pills and cocaine.

At roughly 11 a.m. a search warrant was executed on his home and both Lightner and 18-year-old Zachery Oglivie were arrested, although he was merely charged with obstruction and misdemeanor possession of marijuana while Lightner was charged with possession of cocaine with intent. When the warrant was served both men were allegedly asleep in the home and surprised.

"While we were there processing the home, people were coming by to make purchases," Bradford said. "We would yell out that we weren't selling today and they would keep knocking. You couldn't run them off."

Seven people came to the home to make purchases and were arrested that day as well for criminal intent, but their names are being withheld currently pending investigation.

Eric Duncan Lawrence, 40, was arrested Feb. 27 following numerous purchases by undercover agents that were captured on video over a span of three months, according to Bradford. Lawrence reportedly sold only crack cocaine and was a considered a mid-level dealer in the Jamestown community off Ga. Highway 213.

"Up until a couple of years ago that area was off the charts with drug trafficking," Bradford said. "We started to really target the area and over the past year we have arrested about 20 people."

During the investigation Lawrence would be in one of his three different modular homes in the area and buys have been made out of all three at one time or another, according to Bradford.

With help from the Covington/Newton County SWAT team, SIU and NCSO, law enforcement hit all three homes at the same time. At the time of the search warrant execution a substantial amount of cocaine was reportedly found - over an ounce - which allowed SIU to charge Lawrence with trafficking in cocaine. They also allegedly located drug paraphernalia in one of the trailers.

SIU was also able to seize some of Lawrence's vehicles during the bust because they could allegedly prove that the vehicles were purchased through narcotics trafficking. "It's called ‘Fruits of the Crime,'" Bradford said. "According to the law, if you can prove that then you can take it."

"I am pleased we were able to go into Jamestown and make an arrest on Lawrence," said NCSO Chief Deputy Jerry Carter. "I am very pleased he was arrested and taken out of the community. Hopefully it will give those people relief in their community and we want them to know that we are available if they have a problem in the future."


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