Vancleave drug busts get locals talking

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX)- Sheila Hofler travels down Jim Ramsay road every day.  She's met a lot of neighbors in her four years delivering mail in the area.

"There's a lot of lovely people here, there really is," she said about the rural Vancleave neighborhood.

But people don't tell her about the things going on behind closed doors.  That's why she's shocked every time she hears about another pot arrest.  The most recent residents to be arrested were Jeremy Todd Smith and Michelle Anne Mascaro.  The Jackson County Narcotics Task Force said they found ninety marijuana plants, an estimated one hundred and eighty pounds of pot, in a secret room in their mobile home.  They are charged with cultivating a controlled substance.  They aren't the only ones.  Five arrests have been made for growing marijuana on Jim Ramsay Road this year alone.

"You dont' know of it. And when you find out about it, you didn't know it was here," said Hofler.  "And some of the people that are actually doing it, it blows your mind to know what type of people they actually are."

As a mother she's bothered by this trend.

"I have a sixteen year old and it worries me," she said.  "I'm just hoping he makes the right choices."

Eighteen year old Thomas Lizana isn't quite as concerned.

"It surprises me. But sometimes it doesn't," Lizana said.  "I mean, there's a lot of people out here that do grow it and everything, probably."

One of the most recognizable characteristics of Jim Ramsay Road is that it's quiet. Residents love the atmosphere, but some neighbors say the same rugged peacefulness they love about the area could be part of the problem.  It's so secluded that it could be easy to break the law on Jim Ramsay Road.

Dominic Delgaicco thinks it wouldn't be hard to conceal illegal activity in the area.

"Just about anything I guess could happen around here," he said.

Neighbors agree that anything that may happen stays quiet.

"I mean I've gone to bed with my doors open," said Delgaicco.  "I don't worry about it out here."

"They do their thing and I do mine," said Lizana.