Cops make 2 lb. marijuana bust

COVINGTON -- The Covington/Newton County Special Investigations Unit and the Newton County Sheriff's Office Crime Suppression Unit executed a search warrant Friday morning that netted two arrests and the seizure of more than 2 pounds of marijuana.

According to SIU Commander Lt. Philip Bradford, undercover officers had been purchasing marijuana from an individual living at 65 Woodcrest Drive, off Cowan Road in the western end of Newton County, for about six weeks prior to the execution of the warrant.

Arrested was Fordyce Townes III, 25, and Willkeshia Cunningham, 27, both residents of the Woodcrest Drive address. Both were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and reckless conduct. The latter charge was in connection with a 9-month-old baby.

Bradford said the warrant was what is known as a "knock and announce" warrant, and when they got to the address officers knocked on the door and stated their business.

"They were both sitting on the couch in the living room. He got up and came to the door and looked out, but didn't open it. We breached the door and he ran into the bedroom and goes over to, we believe, pick up a 12-gauge pump shotgun on a stand beside the bed. It's fully loaded with one in the barrel," Bradford said.

Although Townes denied it was his intention to pick up the weapon, Bradford said it was on the far side of the bed with nothing over there but an unplugged computer and the gun.

Officers challenged him and he laid down on the floor.

Meanwhile, the female ran to pick up her baby.

"The house is filled with marijuana smoke ... they were smoking a joint when we came in," Bradford said. "She held her baby and acted all concerned, saying he had breathing problems, and I said, 'I guess so with you smoking marijuana around him.' She said they only do it when the baby is in the other room."

Bradford said the Newton County Department of Family and Children's Services was notified of the situation and the child was turned over to a friend, pending a grandparent arriving to take custody.

"DFACS will be watching the family a little closer," Bradford said.

Bradford said it appeared the two were packaging marijuana when the officers entered the residence as there were several different bags on the floor in front of the sofa, as well as Mason jars with what he said was probably a "higher grade" of marijuana. Also, marijuana was located in the couple's refrigerator.

"The total marijuana seized was a little over 2 pounds. We also found digital scales and packaging materials," Bradford said.

Bradford said there were so many people coming and going from the home that "it could have been a fast food restaurant with the all the traffic they had in and out of there."