20 arrested in Lowndes County in FBI sweep

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 16, 2018

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- 20 people were arrested Thursday in Lowndes County in a sweep by the FBI Gang Taskforce.

All 20 were taken in to custody Thursday and remain in the Lowndes County Jail, now facing a variety of drug related, and other felonies and misdemeanors.

Three of those include Everson Barnes, facing obstruction of officer and indecent exposure charges; Michael Riddle, facing obstruction of officer, burglary and criminal trespass charges; and Jahmir Jordan, facing three felony charges, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of tools during commission of crime and possession of firearm during commission of crime.

The FBI Gang Taskforce is a partnership between several local, state and federal agencies, including police departments in Valdosta, Moultrie and Albany, The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, GBI and FBI.

During Thursday's sweep, authorities recovered nine guns, nine pounds of marijuana and 20 grams of ecstasy.

Authorities said most of those taken in to custody are known gang members and many of them have served time in the Lowndes County Jail before.

This task force is an effort to end gangs in the region, something Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said it's a battle every city faces.

"These people get out and recruit people when they're young. I mean they're recruiting people in high school while they're susceptible and easily influenced. The only way you can combat that is through education, and resource officers," said Paulk. "We have five at Lowndes High School, you try to watch for things like that."

Staff Sergeant James Griffin is a School Resource Officer with Lowndes County Schools. He said they are trained to look out for signs of gang affiliation in schools and help keep kids on the right path.

"What goes on in the community is brought to the school systems from time to time," Griffin said. "If you start noticing certain things, you pay attention to it. You're there for the safety of everyone, not only the students but the staff as well. The training is very important from time to time and the latest intel."

The sweep by the FBI Gang Taskforce was not the last in Lowndes County. Sheriff Paulk said the twenty people arrested made up about half of the individuals they were going after. He said they plan to do another sweep in about six months.

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