Operation First Storm Nets 16 Drug Arrests

At 4am, all was quiet in one Bay St. Louis FEMA trailer park. You might call it the calm before the storm. Sixteen sleepy, suspected drug dealers, most accused of selling crack cocaine to undercover narcotics agents, received a rude awakening.

"I just hope the people just get the message. People just don't want to tolerate the drug activity in their neighborhoods," Narcotics Task Force Director Matt Karl said.

"I don't want my picture taken," one suspect said after seeing our camera.

A sheriff's deputy replied, "You don't have a choice. Get in the car."

Half of the 16 arrested in this sting were women. That's a surprise to even veteran law enforcers.

"In the 29 years I've been in law enforcement here, this is one of the first times we have this many females in a round up," Karl said.

Sheriff Steve Garber said with the storm damaged jail still not in use, where to lock up the women poses a new problem.

"That's our dilemma this morning, figuring out where to send these eight females," Sheriff Garber said. "Harrison County's full with females, Stone County, Pearl River County. We're probably on the phone now with Forrest County, and we may have to go further North than that to try to find places to house these females."

Sheriff Garber knows his task force is a long way from getting every suspected drug dealer in jail.

"There are still drugs in the county, but overall they are starting to settle down some. There for a while, it seemed there were drugs on every street corner."

The sheriff believes every arrest during Operation First Storm makes a difference.

"We feel we had a category two storm in our drug arrests and I'm proud of the narcotics unit and the department. We're striving hard to make Hancock County a safer place."

Narcotics agents arrested all of the people they held warrants on except for one. That suspected dealer was not at home when officers arrived.

Bond was set at $25,000 per count for the people who were picked up.