If you don’t think methamphetamine is a problem in Erath County, just ask the sheriff or the Stephenville Police Chief.
They’ll tell you different.
Over the weekend, officers transported six individuals to the county jail after they were arrested in two separate incidents for possessing the drug.
Law enforcement officials say the arrests are proof that the methamphetamine epidemic is showing no signs of slowing down.
Sheriff Tommy Bryant said although the number of last weekend’s arrest was unusually high, they come as no surprise.
“That was quite a number of meth-related arrests in a two-day period,” Bryant said. “However, I’m not surprised. Meth is still a big problem around here.”
Police Chief Roy Halsell echoed Bryant’s sentiment saying that the problem of methamphetamine abuse is still rampant and is directly related to an increase in property crimes.
“So much of what we see in terms of property crimes is related to meth,” Halsell said. “That’s how a lot of these people feed their habit.”
Halsell said there is even indication that the man recently arrested for robbing at least six banks in recent months, including First Financial Bank in Stephenville, has a meth connection.
Though the amount of meth recovered during last weekend’s arrests was not considered substantial, Bryant and Halsell said it speaks to a greater issue, one that points to the pervasiveness of a problem that touches all walks of life. Among those arrested over the weekend was a manager of a local fast food restaurant, an employee with Pecan Valley Mental Health & Mental Retardation, a self-employed businessman and two mothers.
“These arrests illustrate that there is a lot of meth on the streets and many different people are using it,” Halsell said. “Officers are doing everything they can to control the situation, but the problem is prevalent.”
Halsell said both incidents that resulted in the arrests took place Sunday, with the first occurring shortly after midnight at 1600 North Columbia Street.
According to the police report, officers on routine patrol noticed a “suspicious” vehicle parked next to Mrs. Baird’s Bakery. When the driver of the Chevrolet blazer, Stacy Dawson, 41, became “fidgety and nervous,” officers became suspicious and asked for consent to search the vehicle.
“The driver’s behavior aroused the officer’s suspicion,” Halsell said. “When the officer asked for consent to search, he found marijuana in the ashtray.”
The officer then found a small amount of meth wrapped inside a cloth bag inside Dawson’s boot and more marijuana and prescription drugs inside the passenger’s purse. The passenger, Marsha Rene Rice, 43, admitted the prescription drugs belonged to someone else.
Dawson and Rice were both arrested and transported to jail. Dawson was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. Rice was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of dangerous drugs and possession of marijuana.
Approximately ten hours later, a second scene unfolded, this time at a residence located at 1240 West Swan Street. Halsell said Lieutenant Jason Halsey received a tip that drug activity was taking place at the residence where four suspects lived. When officers arrived at the scene they asked for search to consent, then found meth and drug paraphernalia inside the home.
Those arrested include David Lynn Hamilton, 27, Brigitte Renee Hart, 26, Cris Michael Ray, 42, and Scott Alan Wilkerson, 37. All were charged with possession of a controlled substance. Bond was set at $5,000 each.
Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.