More than 150 law enforcement officers with the Winder Police Department and several other local and state agencies arrested 28 people Wednesday, Nov. 17, as part of a multi-year investigation into drug- and gang-related activity within the city limits.

A total of 136 arrest warrants were issued between the defendants, drug search warrants were executed on six different residences as part of the massive sting operation, WPD officials announced in a news release. As a result of the search warrants executed, officers seized cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, cash and a firearm possessed by a convicted felon. Officers also arrested three additional subjects during the searches who were not already on the arrest list, officials said.

According to the release, over the past two years WPD and city leaders received numerous complaints of several people selling narcotics on area street corners and around a convenience store located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Police officers often engaged the people hanging out or gathered in the areas, and they would usually leave before returning after police had left to resume their activities, officials said, adding that the investigation revealed that several of those charged were also known gang members and were frequently armed with weapons. It was also determined that people from surrounding counties came to Winder to purchase the illegal narcotics.

In May of this year, the WPD requested assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Appalachian Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO) in investigating and addressing the illegal activities, officials said, adding that those agencies began providing assistance. Officers also began using covert purchasing operations, informants, surveillance, concentrated patrol and search warrants to attack the drug and gang issues, according to the release.

Officers used covert tactics to purchase various narcotics in the area, including opioid-based pills, heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine and marijuana.

“It is widely known that opioid addiction is an epidemic across our country, and use of these related drugs leads to overdoses and increases in other crimes including thefts, sex crimes and domestic (incidents),” officials said in the release. “Many crimes we encounter are committed by subjects addicted to drugs and specifically opioid-based narcotics. Some of these recently have included various thefts, entering autos, shoplifting and an armed robbery. The (people) supplying these opioid-based drugs are feeding the addictions of many (people) all across our area. Just this year alone, Winder Police and the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office have responded to approximately 30 incidents involving some form of drug overdose.”

After gathering evidence in recent months, the officers executed the search warrants on all six residences simultaneously Wednesday. The majority of those arrested are charged with at least the sale of illegal narcotics. Other charges include trafficking in cocaine, sale of illegal narcotics within 1,000 feet of government housing property, violation of Georgia’s gang statute, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and violation of probation. Of the 28 defendants, at least 20 of them are currently on active probation or parole, and many of them have multiple previous arrests and drug convictions, officials said.

Along with the GBI and ARDEO, numerous other agencies assisted the WPD in the sting operation, including the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office, Auburn Police Department, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Department of Community Supervision, National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Banks County Sheriff’s Office and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

The following people were arrested as part of the sting:

•Christopher Scott, 39, Marion Lay Street, Winder

•Robert Harvey, 55, Ripple Way, Lawrenceville

•Jabrai Johnson, 32, Kim Chase Road, Athens

•Gerald Moon, 50, Williamson Street, Winder

•Marquarvis Camp, 32, Dreamland Circle, Winder

•Leonardo Hinton, 40, Park Avenue, Winder

•Jamarcus Watson, 30, Williamson Street, Winder

•Jonathan Smith, 50, Dreamland Circle, Winder

•Ervin Smith, 82, Capitol Avenue, Winder

•Tevin Young, 30, Harpy Eagle Drive, Winder

•Valdis Starks, 35, Lee Street, Winder

•Parise Isaac, 22, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Winder

•Mikel Mayweather, 18, Vinings Drive, Winder

•Wayne Butler, 61, Capitol Avenue, Winder

•Marquavious Barnes, 31, Rutledge Drive, Winder

•Barry Winder, 59, Capitol Avenue, Winder

•Monterio Cooper, 37, Lee Street, Winder

•Kassy Reese, 30, Jonaquil Avenue, Auburn

•Jimmie Mack Sr., 63, Capitol Avenue, Winder

•Travis Johnson, 48, Tanners Bridge Road, Winder

•Quincy Maxey, 45, Williamson Street, Winder

•Devin Moon, 29, Williamson Street, Winder.

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