By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
During the lengthy period when the COVID-19 pandemic raged and prevented the housing in the county jail of hardly anyone except those arrested for violent crimes, felony drug offenders got something of a free pass.
Sheriff Heath Jackson said this week the time has come to pay the piper.
Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies and investigators have begun the process of serving warrants that were obtained against felony drug offenders who were caught during the pandemic but allowed to remain free.
“A lot of that is that during the COVID pandemic, we weren’t taking those with drug charges into the jail, we just got warrants for them,” Jackson said of a recent spate of arrests reported by his agency. “Things are opening back up now at the jail, and we’ve started serving those warrants, trying to get these people picked up.”
An Atmore woman, 29-year-old Carlie Rebecca Crutchfield, is one of those who have been taken into custody in recent days by ECSO personnel. Jackson did not say whether Crutchfield’s arrest stemmed from a previous violation.
Details of Crutchfield’s arrest were not immediately available, but reports show she was charged with possession of synthetic marijuana (Spice), possession of methamphetamine and possession of a glass pipe commonly used for smoking both illegal substances. She remained in the county jail as midweek approached. No bond amount was listed on the jail website.
Atmore police continued to reel in felony drug offenders over the past week, charging four local men with possession of various controlled substances. The newer arrests come on the heels of five similar ones reported last week, but Police Chief Chuck Brooks said virtually all those arrests have been for crimes committed currently.
Brooks did note that a roundup would begin soon of individuals who were charged by city police with drug crimes during the period when the jail was not accepting non-violent offenders.
“Most of our recent arrests were conducted after narcotics investigations,” Brooks said. “A lot of them are just from normal traffic stops. We do have a good number of warrants that will be served in the near future because at one point the jail was shut down.”
The most recent arrests:
An ounce of meth
Brooks confirmed this week that a Florida woman was arrested June 12 after she was found to be in possession of 28 grams of methamphetamine, packaged in 100 small baggies.
Kristina Elise Saxson, 33, of Milton, Fla. was taken into custody after a traffic stop on South Main Street of a vehicle with an expired tag. A search of the vehicle reportedly turned up the illicit substance, about 100 baggies, several needles and a glass pipe.
Saxson reportedly admitted that the drugs were hers and was charged with one count each of trafficking in methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. She remained in the county jail Tuesday morning, under $1 million bond. No charges were filed against the driver of the vehicle.
Asleep at the wheel
Kadarrin Lashawn McCarthy, 24, of Atmore was arrested June 18 in the parking lot of Jack’s restaurant, when police found him passed out inside his car, with a child in the back of the vehicle.
As officers worked to rouse McCarthy, they noticed a “green, leafy substance scattered throughout the car.” The substance was initially believed to be marijuana but turned out to be Spice, and the Atmore man was charged with one count each of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The child’s mother was called and took possession of the youngster. Brooks said charges of reckless endangerment of a child are pending against McCarthy.
Jeremy Jamal Gainey, 35, of Atmore was arrested June 20 after police were sent to a Jones Street residence in response to a reported domestic disturbance.
The owner of the home wanted Gainey trespassed from the property, and officers found him crouched down in the backyard of another residence, where the owner of that property was also ordering him to leave.
When Gainey was checked for weapons, officers discovered a cigarillo that contained synthetic marijuana (Spice) and a crystalline substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.
The Atmore man remained in the county jail on Tuesday, held under $10,000 bond on the drug charge but held without bail for violation of probation.
City police arrested Dewitt Champ Carter, 25, of Atmore Monday night, June 21, after being called to the scene of another domestic disturbance, this one at an East Horner Street address.
When officers arrived at the residence, they spotted Carter leaving in a vehicle, which was promptly pulled over.
Reports show that when Carter got out of the car and police tried to pat him down to make sure he had no weapon, he “backed up against the car and would not let them check.”
When he was finally brought under control, officers discovered a “silver baggie with a cartoon child on it” that contained a “green, leafy substance believed to be Spice.”
Carter remained in the county jail Tuesday morning, charged with one count each of possession of a controlled substance and obstruction of a government operation. Bond had not been set yet on those charges, but he was also charged with probation violation and held without bond on that charge.
In a story that appeared in the June 16 edition of Atmore News, it was stated that during a traffic stop of a pickup truck, “a baggie containing a substance that tested positive for meth was found in the pocket of the driver, 27-year-old Matthew Connor Burt of Bay Minette,” who was charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Actually, the first-mentioned baggie of meth was located in the pocket of another suspect, James Alex Vice, 23, of Atmore. Police reports show that “a green cigarette pack containing a substance that tested positive for meth” was also found, “on the driver’s side, next to the driver (Burt),” and he was charged with possession of a controlled substance.