As the sun went down Friday night, police from six different departments began making arrests.
Just before 7 p.m., police from Belpre, Marietta and Parkersburg, as well as Washington and Athens counties, converged on Hill Street in Belpre. Residents we spoke to weren't surprised. They tell us people in the neighborhood were suspected of drug activity for a long time.
"We opened up the investigation in 2002, spot-checking vehicles in homes," says Detective Dave Garvey of the Belpre Police Department. "By the fall of 2003, we opened up an active case file. We probably spent an average of 100 man-hours since December, investigating."
Police extensively searched the Braun Apartments, eventually searching a tenant's car. They found several seeds. In all, seven residences were searched in Belpre, with six people arrested. Four homes also were searched elsewhere in Washington County.
"I'm sure there's going to be a follow-up," Garvey says. "Some of the people are talking. I'm sure it's not over yet."
Police believe the drugs have come from a central location, perhaps a Belpre resident. Felony cases will probably go to a Washington County Grand Jury within the next month or two.
Belpre residents arrested:
Patrick Radcliff, 1601 Hill Street, charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia
Jerry Hess II, 925 Wiley Street, possession of drug paraphernalia
James Williamson, 928 Morgan Avenue, possession of drug paraphernalia (2 counts) and possession of marijuana
Jeffrey Hunter, 922 Morgan Avenue, possession of drug paraphernalia
Angela Lipscomb, 822 Belrock Avenue, possession of drug paraphernalia (2 counts)
Donna Venham, 106 Colonial Square Apartments, possession of drug paraphernalia.