Multi-agency task force seizes drugs, guns
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A May 1 predawn raid on three Patterson Street Apartments units resulted in the arrest of two Atmore residents — a man and a woman — and the seizure of an unspecified quantity of natural and synthetic marijuana, along with several firearms that could turn out to be stolen.
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks said the three-level, multi-agency operation — which included city drug agents, deputies from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, operatives from the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency drug-interdiction agents — went off without a hitch.
“We had search warrants for three apartments,” Brooks said. “We went in early that morning, hit our targets and got out. None of my people got hurt, and none of the tenants got hurt. It was swift and successful.”
John E. McDowell, 43, and Willie D. Wilson, 31, were each taken into custody without incident.
McDowell is charged with one count each of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was also the subject of a bench warrant that was issued after he failed to appear in Escambia County Circuit Court for a hearing on an unrelated case.
Wilson is charged with one count each of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Law enforcement officers blocked off both ends of the apartment complex as officers prepared to execute the search warrants, which turned up marijuana, synthetic marijuana (Spice), a set of digital scales and several guns.
Brooks said investigators aren’t sure yet whether the weapons were stolen, but a recent rash of firearm thefts across southwestern Alabama and northwestern Florida justifies a thorough check of crime computers.
“We found drugs and guns,” the police chief said. “It’s still under investigation as to whether the guns were stolen or not, but we have had a lot of guns taken in burglaries around here lately.”
According to an employee of the Escambia County Detention Center’s booking and release division, McDowell remained in jail Tuesday, May 7, under a $10,000 bond. Wilson was released after a $5,000 bond was posted on his behalf.
Brooks said further criminal charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.