Muscogee County sheriff's officials arrested several people this morning on various warrants in a roundup aimed at curbing drug activity and prostitution in the Bibb City and North Highland areas, authorities said.
Lawmen began the day with a stack of about 75 warrants, the culmination of a five-month investigation. By this afternoon, deputies had arrested at least 18 people and cleared 30 warrants.
Several suspects were not home this morning or had moved from the address listed on the warrant. Others who were home apparently didn't want deputies to know it.
One man, Tony Johnson, allegedly hid on the side of a water bed while deputies were walking through his Neil Drive house. Deputies knocked on the door and were about to leave when neighbors informed them they hadn't seen Johnson leave today.
The door also was ajar, prompting deputies to take a closer look.
"He said he saw us come up and was scared," Lt. Steve Sikes said. "We have authority to search (a residence) if the address is on the warrant. A lot of people think we have to have a search warrant, but we don’t."
Sikes estimated that about 40 percent of wanted person attempt to hide when deputies come into the house.
“They’ll hide in a closet or under a bed, throw clothes on them," Sikes said. "We’ll find them in the attic – just all over the place.”
The outstanding warrants being executed today range from attempted murder to prostitution charges, Maj. Mike Massey said.
Massey said deputies in recent weeks have saturated the area between Manchester Expressway and 18th Street with patrols and undercover officers. The investigation was prompted by a series of complaints from residents in the area, Massey said.
“That is an old mill town, and there are still a lot of retired mill workers that live up in that area that just won’t go outside because of the criminal activity," Massey said. "It’s just saturated with vice.”
"We felt like if we could take the criminal element, work hard on getting known criminals out of that area, that would reduce the narcotics and the prostitution," Massey said. "We know that most of these individuals are connected to vice kinds of crimes."
“These 75 people are all part of a criminal network investigation," Massey added. "Rather than spending a couple of months in an area or weeks in an area buying drugs and putting people in jail for selling drugs on the street, we’re trying to get everybody we can that’s connected to the criminal element out of this area. We’re trying to sweep this area and clean it up.”
Deputies said they would continue the roundup this afternoon.