The Rev. Champale Brown, a Gainesville minister, said her community has shared in shock and heartache after the arrest of three sisters — Hyziher, Erica and Nikki Glenn — in a drug operation last week.
The three Gainesville sisters were among 20 suspects in “Operation Long Time Coming,” a yearlong investigation that authorities said concerned trafficking crack cocaine and other drugs on Black Drive.
Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said the organization, which allegedly made $1.4 million in one year, averaged 20 transactions per hour, nearly 24/7.
“Preliminary investigations revealed heavy vehicle and foot traffic visiting 1009 Black Drive on a daily basis,” Sgt. Paul House told The Times this week. “A decision was made, based on physical surveillance and citizen complaints, to concentrate our investigative efforts on this location.”
House said the investigation was done in the “timeliest manner possible,” though he added that COVID-19 extended them past their initial target date.
All 20 suspects have warrants for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and all of them were related through blood or marriage, authorities say.
As of Friday, Aug. 28, 14 of the suspects were in custody, and authorities were looking for the rest. The most recent arrest was Ramone Perez Rowe, 40, of Gainesville, who was booked into the jail Wednesday, Aug. 26.
Brown, a longtime family friend of the Glenn sisters, said she believes the three sisters were "falsely accused for neighborhood association or affiliation.”
"These are women (who) have volunteered with the food shelters, have provided support to young ladies in the community and help assist with getting financial aid for college and things like that,” Brown said. “It's like it's the twilight zone.”
Johna McCray said she has known the family her entire life, going to school together and having siblings that are the same age. McCray’s mother still lives in the community.
She said the Glenn sisters “beat all the odds,” growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood and eventually getting college degrees.
"They've really come back to Gainesville and given back to our community,” McCray said. “I know for a fact that some of them have taken in children whose parents passed on or had financial problems."
Brown said Erica Glenn has worked in the educational field as a homeless student liaison, and Nikki Glenn worked as a Hall County Juvenile Court probation officer. Hyziher Glenn was working with an alcohol and drug recovery program, Brown said.
Hall County Juvenile Court probation did not return a call for comment.
The Times made multiple calls to the Georgia Department of Education McKinney-Vento Program department, which concerns homeless students, for comment. No calls were answered or returned.
A representative from the North Georgia Counseling and Education Center, where Hyziher is listed as a member of their team on a business referral website, declined to comment.
McCray said the sisters had taken young girls in the community under their wings.
"It's very heartbreaking, because these are the women that my daughter could look up to. ... It was heartbreaking just to hear their names even attached to something like this,” McCray said.
Earnest Mason, an extended family member, said the women “don’t partake” in anything like this.
“If it was around them, it was just because it was around them, but that's not what they do,” Mason said.
The Cooley Drive area, which becomes Black Drive, has been notorious for drugs for at least 20 years, Mason said. All the neighbors know, and they all want it out of their neighborhood, Mason said.
"This is nothing new,” McCray said. “I can honestly say my mom … she kept us shielded from a lot of things that went on. She kept us in church and in a good environment."
The Times requested the 911 calls concerning Black and Cooley Drives from Aug. 1, 2019 to Aug. 1, 2020, which show frequent extra patrols.
“Citizens can request extra patrols based on calls and then the officer assigned to that zone/district initiates it," Hall County 911 communications coordinator Leigh Stallings-Wood wrote in an email.
Stallings-Wood said the zone/district officer can also make this decision for extra patrols.
Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said at the Aug. 20 press conference announcing the arrests that the “drug dealers and drug users held those neighborhoods hostage.”
Brown and McCray described the neighborhood as one that takes care of each other, and McCray recalled some men in this neighborhood who went around one year giving out gift cards to older residents.
"It's a community where I would say the older generation — the 70 and up generation — they look out for the children,” Brown said. “That lets you know how long people have been living there. It's mostly people that are 70 and above, so they are going to look out for the children."
Brown said she hopes the Glenn sisters, who are “women of service,” will have their names cleared.
The Times attempted to find out attorney information for the suspects Friday, Aug. 28, from the Magistrate Court. The Magistrate Court representative forwarded The Times to Superior Court Judge Jason Deal’s office, where a representative said she had no information on the case.
Those arrested in connection with the drug operation 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. Ramone Perez Rowe, 40, of Gainesville
12. Vinson Edward Rucker, 42, of Gainesville
13. Antwane Sintell Thurmond, 39, of Gainesville
14. Vanessa Diane Thompson, 53, of Gainesville