COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — On Monday, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department led a joint task force of six law enforcement agencies that made 18 drug arrests in the area.

It was around 7:45 a.m. that law enforcement teams began going door to door to make arrests.

“They go up and surround the house so no one can get out of the house,” says Lowndes County Sheriff Eddie Hawkins. “Then contact the person inside the house and then find the suspect we are looking for.”

Operation Spring Cleaning, a joint effort led by the Sheriff’s Department and aided by Columbus police, has deployed to serve 52 warrants for felony charges across the county.

“We have warrants for the sale of methamphetamine, the sale of cocaine, the sale of heroin,” Sheriff Hawkins said.

Monday’s operation involved 50 to 60 officers, including members of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Sheriff Hawkins said today’s roundup was the result of an 8-month investigation.

“Our agents went out and started developing informants and making purchases from these suspects,” he says.

The sheriff says they’ve compiled their list of suspects and obtained arrest and search warrants for each.

Arrests Part 2

“We’re trying to do our homework and find out where these bad guys live or at least stay,” he says. “So when we go out to serve those mandates, we’ll know who we’re up against and what we’re up against.”

The arrests included people like Deborah Johnston, on four counts of selling methamphetamine. Sheriff Hawkins says she was on bail for murder.

Arrests Part 3

“Many of these offenders who commit these crimes are career offenders,” he says. “They have been in jail before and are now either on bail or on parole or probation.”

After being processed and incarcerated in the Lowndes County Jail, suspects arrested in Operation Spring Cleaning were required to appear before a court judge for a first appearance and have their bonds set.

Arrests Part 4

“Part of the problem we see in our community is that drugs lead to violence, lead to theft of property, people maintaining their own habits, committing other crimes,” Sheriff Hawkins said. “So by eliminating some of the drug problem here in Lowndes County, it’s also going to eliminate some of the other crime that we’re seeing.”

Arrests Part 5

Sheriff Hawkins said the purpose of this series of arrests was also to ensure that suspects who were on bail were held until they could be tried.

Arrests Part 6

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