As bad an idea as it is for parents to smoke crack cocaine, it’s probably an even worse idea for them to take their toddlers to the crack house to buy it.
But amazingly, that’s what law enforcement says three people accused of purchasing purported crack in a reverse sting operation did.
Those parents were among the 20 people arrested in the sting operation, and two other people, accused of working in the 819 Ninth Ave. S.E. house, also arrested.
The children ranged in age from a 9-month-old infant to 5 years. The Department of Family and Children Services was called in to care for them.
Officers with the Moultrie-Colquitt County Drug Enforcement Team first arrested the two accused workers at the house, a dilapidated structure with bare ground showing in the kitchen area where there were missing floorboards, officers said. Then the officers manned the walk-up window where would-be customers handed over money in amounts ranging from $10 to $40 over the next eight hours.
An undercover officer manned the window from about 10:15 a.m. and made the last arrest at about 6:30 p.m.
The room where sales took place was equipped with a window air conditioner and big-screen TV and cable, enforcement team Cmdr. Steve Exum said. Officers were somewhat surprised by the volume of customers who showed up. It was the first such operation the agency has done in five years. The previous one was at the same house.
As customers purchased the fake crack, they were arrested and hauled to jail.
“I believe if we had continued with our operation we could have doubled that number,” Exum said. “It got to where the street was full of (suspects’) cars, there was nowhere else to park.”
By targeting drug buyers the agency hopes to deter Moultrie residents and those in surrounding areas from purchasing crack in the city, Exum said. As other locations are identified additional operations of this nature will be held.
Other agencies that assisted were the FBI Gang Task Force, Lowndes County Narcotics Unit and Moultrie Police Department. About 10 officers took part in the sting plus Moultrie officers who transported those arrested to Colquitt County Jail.
Charged with possession of cocaine in the house prior to the sting were: Mary Young Johnson, 52, 905 Eighth Ave. S.E., and Derrick Dewayne Ryles, 29, 1112 10th St. S.E.
Charged with criminal attempt to possess cocaine were:
• Wanda Fay Brinson, 50, 1015 Thigpen Trail, Hartsfield.
• Audrey Bond Bivins, 44, 990 Perrry Road.
• Tony Lee Hiers, 57, 139 Rogers St. Berlin.
• Robert Brian Casteel, 34.
• Robert Wesley Dixon, 47, Sunny Pines Lot 14, Thomasville.
• Juvencio Flores, 45, D.H. Alderman Road.
• Patricia Ann Godboldt, 33, 990 Perry Road.
• Rhonda Sue Holley, 3202 Old Adel Road Lot 3.
• Bobby Gene Kastelic, 40, 308 C.O. Kennedy Road.
• Kevin James Kennedy, 31, 260 C.O. Kennedy Road, Pavo.
• Michael Allen McMurphy, 164 Hawthorne Drive.
• Kathy Grace Martin, 52, 651 Newsome Road.
• Zebulon Clay Taylor, 32, 599 Funston-Sigsbee Road.
• James Kenneth Gossett, 35, 609 Old Ga. Hwy. 179 North, Cairo.
• Bradley Keith Newsome, 41, 188 Roy Price Road.
• Kimberly Jane Conger, 48, 130-B Cook Road.
• Linda Kaye Hiers, 54, 139 Rogers St., Berlin.
• Sheila Maria Clements, 44, 207 Dogwood Drive.
• Jason Dewayne Barrett, 24, 734 Third Ave. S.E.
• Paul Richard Harris, 42, 803 Hillcrest Ave.