The Toccoa Police Department and Mountain Judicial Circuit N.C.I.S. Drug Team, with assistance from the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office and Habersham County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, began serving several arrest warrants against the individuals Wednesday in an operation called “Taking Back Toccoa.”
Toccoa Police Chief Tim Jarrell said that for the last three months, his department and the N.C.I.S. Drug Team have been conducting an undercover investigation into illegal drug activity at hotel establishments in the city of Toccoa.
Jarrell said the investigation resulted in 18 successful undercover drug buys from rooms at five local hotels.
“For many years, we have witnessed people who are selling or using narcotics use the hotels and motels in our area,” said Jarrell. “This has been an ongoing issue for some time. While conducting an undercover investigation, we were able to see that many of the people who are selling narcotics were bouncing from motel to motel and selling out of the rooms.”
Jarrell said the five hotels where undercover drug buys took place were the Country Hearth Inn on North Broad Street, the Toccoa Motel on West Currahee Street, the Host Inn on Big A Road, the Relax Inn on Felton Drive, and the Budget Inn on West Currahee Street.
The chief said arrest warrants were obtained against or being sought against 19 people in all.
The charges involve either methamphetamine or marijuana.
Charged with or going to be charged with Distribution of Marijuana are 37-year-old Gilbert Martin, 38-year-old Jerry Alexander, 28-year-old Terrell Cunningham, and an individual police identify only as “New York.”
Charged with or going to be charged with Distribution of Methamphetamine are 27-year-old Timothy Michael Mroz, 47-year-old Roy Gene Gibson, 29-year-old Shane Lashun Lacy, 22-year-old Breann Coley, 34-year-old Jeremy Mans, 31-year-old Dustin Eli Gunn, 33-year-old Randall Gibson, 24-year-old Victoria Raney, 20-year-old Tiffany Hornick, 22-year-old Brandon Vinson, an individual identified only as Tammy York, and an individual identified as Nick Beltz.
Also, 40-year-old Alvin Myers is charged with one count of Distribution of Methamphetamine and one count of Distribution of Marijuana, 26-year-old Michael Tyler Ritenour is charged with one count of Possession of Methamphetamine, and 20-year-old Quamaine Johnson is charged with one count of Possession of Marijuana Less than One Ounce.
Jarrell said besides seeking these individuals, the hotels they allegedly operated out of have been notified that such activities need to stop.
“With the assistance of the Assistant District Attorney who handles drug cases for the Mountain Judicial Circuit, we drafted a letter that was hand delivered to each of the hotels and motels that we went to to serve these outstanding arrest warrants,” said Jarrell. “It basically puts them on notice to know that this activity has to stop and it is their responsibility to help us to make sure it does stop. If it does not, we are going to seek civil action and seize their property.”
Noting the relationship of drugs to other crimes in Toccoa, Jarrell says these establishments have served as “hotbeds” for such activity for too long.
He went on to say that the city commission and management have implemented goals to clean up Toccoa and this operation is one part of a larger effort to enhance the quality of life for those who live and work in Toccoa.
“I am not saying our community is worse than any other community as far as drug sales and drug problems,” said Jarrell. “What I am saying is that the police department and Sheriff’s Office are working together to be proactive against the sale of drugs and the crime that is a result of drugs.”
Jarrell said that some of the individuals were taken into custody by Wednesday afternoon and adds that work would continue into today (Thursday) if necessary.