Police nab 3 in bust

COVINGTON - Lt. Philip Bradford of the Covington/Newton County Special Investigations Unit said local law officers made a commitment in 2007 to keep the Sand Hill community safe and free of drugs, and they went back Friday to make good on their promise.

The SIU executed a search warrant at 4224 Carroll St., after making undercover drug buys from that residence for a couple of months. The investigation was based on complaints law enforcement had received from the community.

Arrested at the location were:

· Shikina Henderson, 32, of 5118 Walnut St., who was charged with sale of cocaine;

· Ronnie Farley, 23, of 4224 Carroll St., who was charged with sale of cocaine;

· Willie King Jr., 22, of 4224 Carroll St., who was charged with possession of marijuana, less than an ounce.

Bradford said the Sand Hill community - consisting of three streets that include West Street, School Street and Carroll Street - has long been known for its drug activity. East Metro Drug Enforcement Team did an extensive investigation in March 2007, which resulted in between 25 and 30 people being arrested in connection with three locations in the Sand Hill community. Bradford said that investigation had revealed that drugs were being sold out of the home of an elderly woman who at the time lived on School Street.

"It was unbeknownst to her, but we made several buys out of her house," he said. "Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were selling dope."

Since that time, the woman, now 86 years old, had moved to the location on Carroll Street that was busted Friday. Her relatives who weren't arrested the first time were apparently continuing in the family business, Bradford said.

"One of the people arrested (Friday), his mother is in prison now for selling cocaine in the 2007 round-up. Now we got him on this one," Bradford said.

He said things had been better in the community, but recently complaints of drug activity had surfaced once more.

"Back when we did the first takedown that place was like a ghost town. Those of us in law enforcement - police officers and agents - said, 'We got this place cleaned up and we're not going to let it return to what it was.' We made a commitment then, and that's what we're going to do," he said.

Bradford said street patrols had done an excellent job in keeping crime down, and he'd been back to the community several times and observed people sitting on their front porches and youngsters playing on the basketball courts.

"It makes you feel good to see all that. We're committed to keeping the neighborhood like that," he said. "When we hear about drug activity in that area, we target it immediately to keep it from getting back like it was. We're going to give the residents of that community their front porches back."

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com