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SIU, SWAT shut down alleged drug den

COVINGTON - Six were arrested Thursday evening in a drug raid at a home that has allegedly been a longtime thorn in the side of its neighbors on Lower River Road.

According to Covington-Newton County Special Investigations Unit Commander Lt. Philip Bradford, his department targeted the house at 764 Lower River Road in the Springhill community after receiving multiple complaints from neighbors concerning drug activity there. The home had already been on their radar following an unsolved murder that occurred there a few years ago, he said.

"We had been getting numerous complaints for a long time from a citizen referencing drug activity at that location," Bradford said.

During a four-month, countywide, controlled undercover drug buy operation, SIU agents made a total of five buys at the location, Bradford said. Once that operation came to a close, SIU began a concentrated, one-month surveillance and drug-buy operation solely of that house.

The concentrated effort paid off Thursday night, Bradford said. "Last night, SIU, with the assistance of the Covington-Newton County SWAT team, executed a search warrant at the residence at about 9:30."

As the officers approached, they witnessed five black men selling drugs as they stood around a 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

As the SWAT team approached, four of the men began to run. "All four were captured after a brief foot chase," Bradford said. "At the car where they were standing, we found a substantial amount of crack cocaine in three different bags." He added that the 30 or 40 individual rocks carried a street value of approximately $500.

The officers also found a small amount of money, digital scales, and approximately 20 ecstasy pills.

"As of last night," Bradford said, "the property owner has been put on notice. ... The next time we make a drug purchase there ... that location will be seized by Newton County.

Bradford added that the bust at the house did not go unnoticed by the neighbors. "We received two messages this morning, thanking us for doing something out there," he said.

Arrested were:

· Lisa Latimore Hurst, 43, the owner of the home. Charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of a Schedule I drug with intent to distribute.

· Jeremy Jerome Hardeman, 20, of 10154 Morris Drive. Charged with possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of Schedule I and II drugs, and obstruction or hindering law enforcement officers.

· Kelvin Lewis Banks, 23, of 715 Spring Hill Drive. Charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of Schedule I and II drugs with intent to distribute, and obstruction or hindering law enforcement officers.

· Timothy Eugene Prather, 24, of 6348 Turner Lake Road. Charged with possession of cocaine, and possession of Schedule I drugs with intent to distribute.

· Lamarius Marquis Latimore, 24, of 764 Lower River Road, Hurst's son. Charged with possession of Schedule I and II drugs with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and obstruction or hindering law enforcement officers.

· Romeo Anthony Brown, 18, of 5178 Hartsook Drive. Charged with possession of Schedule I and II drugs with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and obstruction or hindering law enforcement officers.

Colin M. Stewart can be reached at colin.stewart@rockdalecitizen.com.