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Joint sweep targets area drug dealers

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Maj. David Wooten of the Nash County Sheriff's Office joins a multi-agency raid of a home Thursday on Greys Mill Road in Rocky Mount on Thursday morning as part of Operation Groundhog. Three pounds of marijuana were seized during a search.Maj. David Wooten joins a multi-agency raid of a home on Greys Mill Road in Rocky Mount on Thursday morning as part of Operation Groundhog. Three pounds of marijuana were seized during a search.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Friday, February 2, 2018

A two-day multi-agency drug sweep of the Twin Counties kicked off with a warranted search of a Carriage Run home Thursday morning in Rocky Mount.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone knocked on the front door at 1532 Greys Mill Road with a package in his hand, pretending to be a delivery man.

When 30-year-old Travis Sintell Somerville answered the door, deputies and police officers swarmed into the house.

"It's a good prop," Stone said. "They always want that package."

Authorities found a package of another kind inside the home: Three pounds and 39 grams of marijuana.

The marijuana was of a high grade, said Maj. David Wooten, who heads the narcotics division, among others, for the sheriff's office.

Wooten, who has been with the sheriff's office since 1994, said the roundup was a result of about six months worth of investigations that included controlled buys by undercover detectives and informants.

Dubbed Operation Groundhog, the dragnet is concentrating on suspects charged with manufacturing, selling and distributing drugs including heroin and cocaine. Authorities will release a list of arrestees at the end of the roundup this afternoon.

The proactive campaign is geared to reduce the number of drug dealers peddling poison in the Twin Counties, Stone said.

Participating in the roundup were deputies from Nash and Edgecombe counties and police officers from Rocky Mount, Tarboro, Nashville, Spring Hope and Wilson.

The operation puts on full display a new area of cooperation between the Rocky Mount Police Department and surrounding agencies.

"I met Chief (Willie) Williams when I first got here," Stone said. "We share the same goals."

Williams, a former high-ranking Rocky Mount police officer and chief in Wilson, was brought into the department again, this time as interim chief, when James Moore retired late last year.

Stone said drugs — especially opioids — are a leading cause of death among young adults and teens.

"Drugs and stolen property finance gangs," Stone said. "Wherever you find the sale of drugs, you'll find guns and violence."

A Carriage Run resident who asked not to be identified said Somerville hasn't lived in the Grey Mill Road home for very long.

"It's a beautiful neighborhood, we want to keep it that way," the resident said, adding his thanks to authorities for helping clean up the area.

Somerville was charged with possession with the intent to sell and deliver marijuana, possession of marijuana and maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance. He was released on a a $15,000 secured bond.

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