Feds arrest nearly 150 people in sweeping Mississippi drug, gang bust
Published 3:38 pm Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Law enforcement authorities arrested nearly 150 people and seized approximately $66,000 in drugs and cash after a sweeping, six-week investigation in North Mississippi, federal officials reported Wednesday.
The 149 people arrested face a variety of criminal charges, including violent crimes, drug crimes and gang related activities.
“Operation Triple Beam,” a U.S. Marshals led initiative brought together federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in an effort to reduce crime in the Golden Triangle area by identifying and arresting violent fugitives, targeting violent gang activity and collecting intelligence to allow for the systematic removal of individuals who are responsible for committing crimes in North Mississippi.
In addition to the arrests, Operation Triple Beam resulted in the seizure of approximately $65,820 worth of narcotics and narcotics related proceeds. Danny McKittrick, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Mississippi, and Chad Lamar, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, made the announcement on Wednesday in Columbus, together with their federal, state and local law enforcement partners.
Operation Triple Beam commenced in the Golden Triangle area on July 15, 2019, and concluded on August 30, 2019. As a part of the initiative, approximately 50 gang members were arrested or validated by law enforcement. In addition, 155 registered sex offenders living in Northeast Mississippi and the Golden Triangle area were checked for compliance with sex offender registration requirements. Compliance checks were also conducted on eight moderate and high-risk federal and state probationers.
The arrests, seizures and compliance checks occurring as part of the Operation Triple Beam initiative resulted from the combined efforts of a half dozen local law enforcement agencies across three counties in North Mississippi, along with State and Federal law enforcement partners.
Law enforcement agencies participating in the Operation Triple Beam initiative included: U.S. Marshal’s Service; U.S. Attorney’s Office; U.S. Probation; U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Unit; Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms; Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics; Mississippi Highway Patrol; Mississippi Bureau of Investigation; Mississippi Department of Corrections; Mississippi Air National Guard; West Point Police Department, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department; Columbus Police Department; Clay County Sheriff’s Department; Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department; and the Starkville Police Department.
The use and sharing of investigative resources and the multi-agency partnerships that were crucial to the success of Operation Triple Beam as a whole are key components of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the Department of Justice’s gun violence reduction initiative. PSN began in 2002 under President George W. Bush, continued under President Obama, and was reinvigorated in October of 2017 during President Trump’s administration.
As with Operation Triple Beam, PSN focuses on reducing violent crime and making communities safer through partnerships and collaborative efforts between federal, state and local law enforcement and community partners. The PSN program in the Northern District of Mississippi has long been a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a primary means of combatting violent gun crime. Although it originally focused in the areas of Clarksdale and Greenville, Mississippi, the U.S. Attorney’s Office expanded the program in 2017 to reach other areas of the District, including Columbus and Lowndes County.
U.S. Marshal McKittrick and U.S. Attorney Lamar announced the results of Operation Triple Beam on Wednesday in conjunction with the two year anniversary of the reinvigoration and renewal of the PSN program.
U.S. Marshal McKittrick and Chief Deputy Jeff Woodfin praised the collaboration between the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that took part in the operation.
“This initiative gave the public a small glimpse of what law enforcement carries out on a daily basis. We couldn’t be more proud of the men and women who worked diligently during this highly effective operation,” McKittrick said. “This all-hands-on-deck approach was pivotal in the success of this operation, which will make a difference in our communities. Some of these cases will be prosecuted in federal court and some in state court. There are additional ongoing investigations that may lead to future arrests, all of which are important in the pursuit of dismantling the criminal element in the Northern District of Mississippi.”
U.S. Attorney Chad Lamar thanked the many law enforcement agencies who participated in Operation Triple Beam and praised the results.
“Columbus and the larger Golden Triangle area are focus points for our Project Safe Neighborhoods program and this Operation Triple Beam is a prime example of what law enforcement can accomplish when local, federal, and state partners work together,” Lamar said. “By running operations like Operation Triple Beam that rely on partnerships, intelligence-driven data and targeted enforcement, we can and will keep make our neighborhoods safer for all citizens.”