SIU shuts down alleged drug house

COVINGTON - Agents with the Covington/Newton County Special Investigations Unit and Officers with the Covington Police Department raided a suspected drug house Friday afternoon on Avery Street, arresting six people and seizing a quantity of cocaine and marijuana.

According to SIU Commander Lt. Philip Bradford, agents had been watching the residence for more than a month and had made numerous purchases of illegal narcotics from the location. Authorities also had received numerous complaints about the residence due to the heavy foot traffic to and from the location that took place at all times of day.

Shortly after 2 p.m., authorities executed a search warrant at the home and took the suspects into custody on various drug charges.

Among those arrested were the house's renter, Scott Benton Jr., 63, his brother Clarence Benton, as well as Curtis Green, 58, Michael Wright, 48, Derrick Hardeman, 48, and Sedrick Bolden, 27. Clarence Benton's age was unknown.

Green, Wright, Clarence Benton and Scott Benton have each been charged with possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine.

According to Bradford, Hardeman had outstanding probation warrants in Rockdale County and was turned over to their custody.

Bolden, who was described by the SIU commander as one of the investigation's "main targets," has been charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana. He reportedly attempted to flee as agents entered the home, but he was quickly apprehended after he attempted to discard some crack cocaine, Bradford said. Authorities said they also found digital scales on Bolden.

Bolden was arrested and charged with sale of cocaine in April following a raid by agents with the East Metro Drug Enforcement Team on two residences in Covington's Sandhill community.

Bradford said that Bolden is fighting those charges in court and recently had a bench warrant issued for his arrest.

Subsequent to Friday's raid, Bradford said SIU contacted the Newton County District Attorney's Office and requested that Bolden's previous bond be revoked, due to the new charges.

Bradford said that the residence was what is commonly referred to in the world of illegal drugs as a "Trap House," which is when drug dealers will use a particular home to deal out of during the day and then return to their own home at night. It's also a place where those buying drugs can use them in safety.

"It's kind of looked at as a safe haven for the user," Bradford said, adding that each time a person leaves from a known drug house, their chance of getting caught increases, which is why the trap house is appealing to them. "(The house) was a big nuisance in the community.

In other news, two people wanted in connection with marijuana trafficking charges, Demetres Lavorn Jackson, 34, along with his girlfriend, Nicole Braswell, were taken into custody by authorities Thursday night, according to Bradford.

Near the end of the summer, Bradford said his unit received information that Jackson, who owns Express Mail Box on Salem Road, was having marijuana shipped to the store and was then dispersing it from there.

Bradford said that SIU had been watching Jackson for a while when they recently got a break in the case.

A package that was supposed to be shipped to another mail store that Jackson reportedly has ties to was mistakenly delivered to a restaurant in McDonough. When employees at the restaurant opened the package, they found a 5 gallon bucket filled with marijuana, at which point they called authorities.

SIU, along with the drug task force in Henry County, then got together and secured search warrants for Jackson's business and residence.

The Covington/Newton County S.W.A.T. Team executed the search warrant at Jackson's residence on Feb. 15. Inside the home, authorities discovered marijuana, a .44 magnum handgun, as well as the packing materials that were reportedly being used to ship the drugs.

Jackson is facing charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the Newton County case.

Shortly after Jackson posted bond on those charges, Henry County authorities took out warrants against him, Braswell and another suspect on marijuana trafficking charges.

Braswell faces charges of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in connection with the Newton County case.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com.