Task Force Nets 19 Arrests In Gautier Sweep

About 20 suspected criminals are in jail tonight after an overnight drug operation swept though Gautier. It's called Operation Heatstroke, and it's an effort between local, state, and federal agencies to clean up Jackson County's streets. Keli Rabon takes us to the scene, to show us why citizens say each time they see the blue lights, they feel a lot safer.

"You ever heard of the Narcotics Task Force? You haven't? Nice to meet you," agent Chad Heck said to two men in handcuffs.

It was an unexpected meeting Friday night for dozens of suspected criminals and police that landed alleged drunk drivers, felons, and drug dealers in jail.

Some Gautier residents were pleased to see police patrolling their neighborhood, and removing criminals.

"This is like COPS on TV, you know. This is something serious! I haven't never seen this many police in my life," Gautier resident Catina Towne said.

And that's just the effect the Task Force wants to have in Jackson County. More officers, more traffic stops, and more arrests.

"Operation Frostbite and Operation Heatstroke is accomplishing the goal we want to accomplish," Commander Curtis Spiers said.

Some were suspected drunk drivers. Others were intoxicated from hydrocodone, cough syrup found mixed in a Sprite bottle.

"It was all over his shirt. He didn't know what zip code he was in, let alone what county he was in," Spiers said.

That stop was just a few feet away from the Adult Detention Center, where the suspected drug dealer had to spend the night. Residents say seeing large drug busts makes them feel more protected.

"Even if I have to get pulled over, I'm willing to do that, because I know they're keeping our streets safe," Gautier resident Rocquel Stennis said.

But as police continue to put the cuffs on suspected criminals throughout Jackson County, Commander Spiers knows not everyone is going to be so appreciative.

"The criminal element, surely they're not going to," Spiers said. "But the bottom line is, if you commit crime in Jackson County, we're going to be there."

The Task Force also seized about $2,000 in drug money during their raid and it says it depends on these seizures to stay open. It puts the money towards buying new equipment for agents.