Cocaine dealers arrested after months long investigation
Published: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 12:40 a.m.
MAYO - Months of undercover drug investigations became public New Year's Eve when seven people were arrested in Lafayette County.
Sheriff Carson McCall said the suspects were street-level dealers of powder cocaine and crack cocaine and had a large customer base that included residents of Columbia, Hamilton, Dixie, Suwannee and Taylor counties.
"This was one phase of the investigation," McCall said. "It's hard to tell the exact volume because some were moving a lot (of drugs) and some were moving a little."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement assisted with the investigation, in part because Lafayette County is so small. The county has about 7,200 residents, making it difficult to use undercover buyers who would not be known to others in the community.
Those arrested were charged with various counts of possession of cocaine, possession with intent to sell cocaine and delivery of cocaine. All were identified as Mayo residents and were being held at the county jail Wednesday.
They were identified as: Isiah Cason, 65, $50,000 bond; Roney James Smith, 34, $30,000 bond; Gerald Marte Thomas, 20, $45,000 bond; Richard Jerome Lane, 22, $30,000 bond; Hal Lee Lewis Jr., 21, $10,000 bond; and Salih Thomas, 23, who was held without bond.
Also arrested was James Dell Watkins, 17. He was already being held at the county jail on a previous case in which he had adjudicated as an adult. Bond for Watkins in the New Year's Eve arrest was set at $10,000.
Lane and Lewis also were being held at the county jail on previous charges when they were arrested Tuesday.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@ gvillesun.com.
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