Thirteen of 20 suspects are in custody in connection with a drug operation at a home off Black Drive, where law enforcement officials say a steady stream of people purchased drugs every day, and those heading the operation made an estimated $1.4 million per year.
Sheriff Gerald Couch and others announced Thursday the results of “Operation Long Time Coming,” a yearlong investigation into the sale of crack cocaine, synthetic marijuana and prescription pills.
Couch said investigators believe the group has been operating for roughly two years, trafficking more than 60 kilograms of crack cocaine annually.
The sheriff said the operation kicked off in the summer of 2019 after several anonymous tips about heavy traffic and possible drug trafficking “sold through the windows of a house located on Black Drive.”
“According to agents, drug dealers at the home averaged a minimum of 20 transactions an hour, from early in the morning till late at night, seven days a week,” Couch said.
All 20 suspects have arrest warrants for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and all are family through blood or marriage.
Couch said Friday, Aug. 21, a typical transaction would be a person driving to or getting a ride to Black Drive, walking up to the house and knocking on the window.
When asked about the length of the investigation, the sheriff said the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act requires more evidence because of the harsher penalties.
A conviction carries anywhere from five years to 20 years in prison, Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said.
A basic drug case could stop just one person and get a narcotics possession charge, but the endgame was the bigger picture, Couch said.
“That’s when we focused on these individuals that were actually preying on those people and their weaknesses and their addictions,” Couch said. “You eradicate the supplier. You take that supplier out of the equation, and those types of investigations take a great deal longer to build that case.”
The bigger the organization, the longer it takes, Couch said. He estimated it took roughly half to three-quarters of the investigation just to identify all of the suspects in the organization.
Officers started executing search warrants at 6 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, at 16 residences across Hall County.
Three primary ringleaders were identified in the investigation: Roger Eugene Cantrell, 52, Peyton Renia Hood, 39, and Antwane Sintell Thurmond, 39, all of Gainesville.
“In addition to the group’s leadership, agents arrested Nikki Glenn, 46, who is married to Thurmond and is employed at Hall County Juvenile Court,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said Glenn started in May 2001 with Hall County and was working as a probation officer. She is not currently working for Hall County, Crumley said Thursday, Aug. 20.
Couch said it is one of the largest investigations the MANS unit has taken, and the first time it has led a RICO investigation.
The sheriff called it a great example of “see something, say something.”
“The people we targeted have been substantially profiting off of people’s misery for far too long,” Couch said.
Couch said the narcotics were coming from Atlanta and sold in Gainesville.
No further arrests are anticipated.
Shortly after he became chief, Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said there were people calling the department from Gainesville neighborhoods who “were held hostage by drug users going to houses.”
“Their kids couldn’t safely play basketball in the streets, enjoy each other’s company and be what neighborhoods should be,” Parrish said.
Those in custody include:
1. Kavarus Lashaund Brown, 39, of Gainesville
2. Quincy Tyrone Buffington, 43, of Gainesville
3. Marquez Sanchez Cantrell, 33, of Gainesville
4. Roger Eugene Cantrell, 52, of Gainesville
5. Hyziher Consuela Glenn, 41, of Gainesville
6. Erica Nicole Glenn, 47, of Gainesville
7. Nikki Yashica Glenn, 46, of Gainesville
8. Juan Tereman Henderson, 40, of Flowery Branch
9. Peyton Renia Hood, 39, of Gainesville – already in custody at Gwinnett County Jail
10. Anthony Tyrone Jones, 47, of Gainesville
11. Vinson Edward Rucker, 42, of Gainesville
12. Antwane Sintell Thurmond, 39, of Gainesville
13. Vanessa Diane Thompson, 53, of Gainesville
Police are actively searching for the remaining suspects.