CLEVELAND, Ga. – Officers with the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO) conducted a raid over the weekend that dismantled a major drug trafficking organization operating primarily out of Stephens and Habersham counties but supplying drugs to a much wider section of north Georgia including White County.
White County Sheriff Neal Walden congratulated ARDEO officers which includes officers from White at Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
“The drug task force took a bite out of the drug trade in northeast Georgia over the weekend,” Walden said. “That was about a 6-8 months investigation. They did a good job taking a lot of drugs, guns and money off the street. It didn’t show any stats in White County but trust me, for these dealers here it’s just a hop skip and jump over to Habersham and Stephens counties. That’s where they’re going to get most of it.”
Together with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office, Habersham County Sheriff’s Office and Toccoa Police Department, ARDEO agents served 10 search warrants and 25 arrest warrants for members, suppliers and customers of Donna Beard and Amber Null’s drug trafficking organization.
Execution of the search warrants began with a traffic stop of the alleged suppliers, Brandon Davidson and Jody Higgins, prior to their delivery of methamphetamine to Beard and Null.
Over the course of the eight month investigation, ARDEO agents with the cooperation of the Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, used all available investigative techniques at its disposal to bring down a drug trafficking network that has plagued Stephens, Habersham, White and surrounding counties.
Acording to an ARDEO press release, the drug trafficking organization has distributed multiple kilograms of methamphetamine in North Georgia.
This particular investigation is an example of the value of interagency cooperation. Because of the strong, existing relationships between the participating agencies, Agents were able to share intelligence and coordinate the dismantling of a complex drug trafficking organization. This investigation developed as a result of intelligence that was gathered after the previous arrests of Luke Norton, Tonya Loundermilk and Melanie Brock. The investigation continues and additional arrests are expected.
The Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office is a multi-agency unit that consists of the following Sheriff’s Offices: White County, Lumpkin County, Towns County, Banks County, Habersham County, Stephens County, and Rabun County, along with the Cleveland Police Department, the Georgia National Guard, Counter Drug Task Force, the Department of Public Safety, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
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