Drug crackdown draws emotional response from addict's family

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - When law enforcement officials announced details of a major drug crackdown in Jackson County Tuesday, Sheriff Mike Ezell promised it would slow the flow of drugs into South Mississippi.

Multiple agencies worked together targeting an area of Vancleave known as "The Hill," where dealers were reportedly selling meth, cocaine, and marijuana.

For Belinda Simpson, the news of the drug raid was bittersweet.

"I'm just glad they got a crew up there to get it cleaned up. It's very emotional," Simpson said.

Emotional, because she knows first hand the impact and devastation the drug ring brought to her close-knit community.

"I watched my loved one struggle for seven years with drug addiction," Simpson said.

That addiction led to an overdose just a few months ago. Simpson said like many others, she blames the void in her heart on "The Hill."

"They was known for being up there - up at 'The Hill,'" Simpson said.

"The Hill" is a small complex, tucked away just off of Highway 57 in Vancleave.

"You just mention 'The Hill' everybody knows what you're talking about. Everybody. It's sad," Simpson said.

It's a problem the community says spans back nearly three decades - and can be seen in plain sight.

"It's been going on for too long," Simpson said. "People see it, people talk about it."

But Tuesday, people were talking about the arrests. Much of the community praised the efforts, even though they shied away from our TV cameras.

For Simpson, seeing the list of those in custody brought a small sense of closure.

"I felt a big relief about it when I heard about it this morning, with some of the names I saw," Simpson said.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department, local law enforcement, and the FBI say this is just one part of a widespread bust under the Safe Streets Task Force and more arrests are likely.

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