COVINGTON - A man undercover drug agents have been pursuing for years was taken into custody last week and is facing several significant drug charges, according to Covington/Newton County Special Investigations Unit Commander Philip Bradford.
Charles "Poo" Dennis, 29, of 6139 Nixon Circle, was arrested on March 18 and charged with trafficking in cocaine, felony possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm or knife while trying to commit crimes.
He also faces multiple traffic charges in Rockdale County brought by the Georgia State Patrol, including felony fleeing and attempting to elude, driving without a license and speeding.
"SIU had been working on Charles Dennis, aka Poo, even back in the East Metro (Drug Enforcement Team) days. We had attempted to make purchases using confidential informants, but they would always fall through. We couldn't get close enough to him," Bradford said. "But last Wednesday we were able to get close enough to him. We had information he had a large quantity of marijuana in his possession."
Bradford said he and his undercover agents were following Dennis and asked troopers from the Georgia State Patrol Post 46 in Conyers to make a traffic stop on him for speeding, an offense they had observed and which was later observed by the troopers.
"If Dennis had pulled over and stopped, we weren't going to get out. They attempted the traffic stop on I-20 westbound around Highway 138 in Conyers. He was in the fast lane over against the wall and he turns his blinkers on and goes all the way over to the emergency lane like he was going to stop," Bradford explained, adding that GSP Trooper B.L. Cuendet was driving a Dodge Charger, while the suspect was driving a Ford Focus.
"Maybe this guy was smoking some of his product," Bradford quipped, rhetorically asking why else would the suspect think he could outrun a Dodge Charger in a Ford Focus. "He got to about West Avenue and he guns it and takes off weaving in and out of traffic. Both troopers are right on his heels," he said.
Bradford said the suspect got off the interstate at the Sigman Road exit, but lost control before he could come to a stop.
"The troopers didn't attempt a PIT maneuver. They weren't in a position to do that. They never touched him," Bradford said. "He was just going too fast and he lost it."
Bradford said the suspect tried to stop at the top of the ramp, but the car slid across Sigman Road and slammed into a guardrail, went over the guardrail before going airborne, cutting several trees in half, and going down an embankment, landing on its roof.
He said at that point, the troopers as well as the undercover agents bounded out of their vehicles and went down the embankment, not knowing if the suspect was alive or dead.
"The car's upside down and he's on the passenger side and he was looking out the passenger side window," Bradford said. "He was showing his hands, like he was giving up."
Apparently uninjured, Bradford said, officers began hauling him out of the vehicle, but nobody had said anything to the suspect.
"We got him out, and as we were handcuffing him, he said, 'What'd you stop me for?'" Bradford said with a laugh. "We told him, 'We didn't stop you. That guard rail back there stopped you.' He was going 100 mph and he wanted to know why he was stopped."
Inside the car, Bradford said officers found a school-type backpack that contained 2 pounds of marijuana and 2.5 ounces of powdered cocaine. Also in the vehicle was a 9mm handgun, he said.
"A more thorough search of the car in the trunk, we found a duffel bag which had 4 pounds of marijuana in it. He had large digital scales. Usually the ones we find are smaller and used to weigh out 1 ounce of marijuana or one crack rock, but this scale was in pounds, so he was definitely in business," Bradford said.
Dennis was taken to the Newton County Detention Center because the drug investigation had originated in Newton County.
Bradford said it estimated that the powder cocaine, which is worth between $1,000 to $1,200 as is, would be "cooked" with filler and transformed into crack rocks, worth approximately $5,000.