By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Cooke County —
Cooke County law enforcement officers intercepted two drug deliveries in Gainesville on Friday, leading to arrests on California and Hancock streets.
Sheriff Terry Gilbert provided reports about the busts Tuesday — explaining later that his department has recently designated an employee to serve as the official “drug enforcement task force.”
Prior to Gilbert’s January appointment as sheriff, he said Wednesday, the department had no such designation among officers.
“They were multitasking,” Gilbert said. “And they did the best they could, but this guy is a professional narcotics detective. The cases go to him and whatever help he needs, we supplement him.”
The sheriff said he didn’t want to release the detective’s name. Friday’s busts, he added, were the results of investigations of less than two days and were unrelated åto any other recent drug-related arrests, including a trio of arrests made on Feb. 1.
Gilbert explained that on Friday, county officers received information about a delivery of methamphetamines in the parking lot of Taco Casa, 701 W. California St. in Gainesville. Deputies established surveillance in the restaurant parking lot and observed a black 1997 Honda enter the property. The driver was Mary Lou Gomez, a 39-year-old white female also known as “Lou Lou.”
Gilbert said deputies made contact with Gomez and removed her from the Honda, and added that the parties involved didn’t engage the restaurant or its customers.
“That’s just where they’d agreed to meet and that’s where it went down,” he said Wednesday. “They never got inside.”
After a transport to the Cooke County Justice Center, Gomez was subjected to a routine search, where officers found her in possession of 14 grams of methamphetamine (valued at $1,400). She was charged with manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 (an amount between four and 200 grams) and with the possession of a prohibited substance in a correctional facility. Gilbert said the Honda was later seized by county officers, since it had been utilized in the delivery of a felony quantity of controlled substances.
Friday’s second bust in Gainesville followed tips to county officers in reference to a large amount of marijuana en route to a residence at 1309 Hancock St. Gilbert said deputies knocked on the door of the residence and met with Walter Ray Wyatt, 61, a white male. After a brief discussion, Wyatt agreed to allow deputies to search the residence, where they later recovered 1.5 pounds of marijuana (valued at $6,000). Wyatt was later arrested and booked into the county justice center, charged with possession of marijuana (an amount between four ounces and five pounds).
Always a problem
The two busts in downtown Gainesville follow a trio of them carried out Feb. 1, on the city’s Buck and Commerce streets. During those arrests — which Gilbert said were unrelated to Friday’s incidents — eight people were taken into custody, the result of two weeks of investigation.
“We’re hoping we can put a huge dent in their supply,” Gilbert said on Feb. 4. “People are burglarizing and stealing things to pay for their habit. So they’re going to steal your TV to pay for their dope.”
The eight suspects were charged with manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance (an amount between one and four grams), manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance (an amount between four and 200 grams), immigration violations and engaging in organized criminal activity.
During the busts on Feb. 1, investigators found and seized three handguns, including one that had been reported missing from the Moss Lake area in 2007.
Officers also seized 25 grams of cocaine, valued at $2,500; two automobiles; digital scales; drug baggies; and $3,500 in U.S. currency.
But the sheriff admitted Wednesday that even with a succession of captures and seizes, drug-related crime will continue to be prevalent in certain areas of Cooke County.
The situation, he said, could be compared to the practice of knocking down one peg, only to see another peg rise.
“You do the best you can and put out as many fires as you can,” he said. “And then another one comes up. But then you turn and you meet the threat.”