Residents Believe Drug Bust Was Handled Poorly - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

03/21/06 - Cherokee County

Residents Believe Drug Bust Was Handled Poorly

by Ramonica R. Jones

Residents in a small East Texas community heard a lot of commotion outside their homes early Tuesday morning. More than half a dozen sheriff's deputies arrived in their town for a drug bust.

It happened in the Weeping Mary community near Alto. The Cherokee County sheriff's deputies made one arrest. Some folks who live there are upset about the way the drug bust was handled, but authorities said, for safety reasons, it's standard procedure for several agents to respond during a narcotics search.

Chief Deputy Jonathan Rhodes said, "A district judge issued a controlled substance search warrant for this residence. We executed that warrant. We have confiscated a substance we believe to be a controlled substance and we have one person in custody."

The suspect was taken to the Cherokee County jail. Authorities are not releasing the man's name until he's been arraigned.

Cherokee County authorities said they handled the drug bust like professionals, but some Weeping Mary residents disagree. They said they were bombarded with sheriff's deputies and unfairly targeted because they're a small black community.

For several hours, residents watched as Cherokee County authorities searched their neighbor's home for drugs. The bust happened around 6:30 a.m.

Ironda Jenkins said, "They got to jumping out [of their vehicles] saying 'all ya'll get back, get back, get back, this is a police investigation'. We didn't understand what was going on so we all stepped to the side."

This wasn't the first drug bust in that area, but some residents believe it could have been handled a lot better.

"As far as them doing they job, that's understandable, but if you're gonna do your job, you gotta do it right," Jenkins said. "When you come into the community, you notice it's only African-Americans. This is not the only problems that we've been having. Also, it's like when they come, they feel like that they gotta bring 50,000 people."

Some people living there said they couldn't get to work Tuesday because authorities blocked off several homes during the drug bust instead of just the one under investigation, but authorities said that's not true and people were free to leave.

In the end, only one arrest was made Tuesday, but many of the neighbors said they were also treated like criminals.

About 300 people live in the Weeping Mary community. It's located about six miles from Alto.

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