COVINGTON - The Covington/Newton County Special Investigations Unit recently arrested two housewives and mothers in a subdivision off Gross Lake Parkway who they believe to be allegedly involved in selling large amounts of marijuana.
Arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana were neighbors Wendy Olivia Dowe, 37, of 675 Barshay Drive and Daniella Staley, 38, of 665 Barshay Drive.
Lt. Philip Bradford said one of the women is the mother of a 2-year-old and is four months pregnant. The other woman is the mother of an infant and was breastfeeding at the time of her arrest.
SIU's investigation had led the unit to believe marijuana was being delivered via mail to 665 Barshay Drive and the investigation initially centered on that address.
"We did a controlled delivery (which means the package was intercepted from the post office and was delivered by an undercover agent) and watched the package. We suspected it was marijuana," Bradford said.
The next day a second package arrived for the same address and in that instance, investigators applied for and received a search warrant for that package after a drug dog indicated it contained contraband.
"We opened it up and it contained marijuana," he said.
He said while watching to see what would become of the first package, agents noticed there was an usual amount of activity between 665 and 675 Barshay.
"We knew 675 had something to do with it," he said, adding that they applied for search warrants of both houses based on their knowledge that the second package did, in fact, contain marijuana.
"We executed the search warrant for 665 and the lady (Staley) there ran when agents pulled up," Bradford said. "She was in a bedroom on the front side of the house and she grabbed the package and ran out the back door. Of course, we had agents in the woods, watching the back and the front of the house, so we already had her surrounded," he said.
He said agents were able to catch her immediately and take her back into the house where it was confirmed that the package she was running with was the one agents had been watching for.
Bradford said agents next went to 675 Barshay and made contact with Dowe, who told them they could come in her house.
"As soon as we go into the garage, we see the package from the day before," Bradford said. "It was open and there was marijuana residue at the bottom of the package and the box smelled like marijuana."
Bradford said agents found 3 to 4 more ounces under a sink in a small bathroom. They then served the search warrant and did a more thorough search and were able to uncover a large set of digital scales.
"That was something I've never found before, scales of that size in all the drug houses I've hit. They would weigh up to 150 pounds," Bradford said. "It was evident at that point we weren't dealing with a street-level dealer. This was a distributor."
Bradford said 5 to 6 more pounds of marijuana were uncovered in a freezer.
Between the two houses, about 12 pounds of marijuana were seized.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.