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Trinity Standard - Local News

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Three jailed on meth charges
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – A trio of undercover police investigations ended earlier this month with the arrest of three suspects on methamphetamine possession charges. Joe Nance, 25, of Trinity was arrested July 7 on a felony charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; Justin Lakey, 23, of Trinity was arrested July 4 on a felony manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance charge; and Debra Gatlin, 34, of Trinity was arrested July 3 on a felony possession of a controlled substance charge. According to Trinity Police Chief Steve Jones, all three arrests came after police obtained information from undercover sources. Nance was taken into custody shortly after 4 a.m. on July 7 during a joint operation between Trinity police and Pct. 3 Constable Hayne Huffman. Jones said investigators received information that a drug deal was going to take place in a cemetery located off FM 3188 and set up surveillance. However, something is believed to have “spooked” the drug dealer and the white Dodge minivan in which he was riding was spotted leaving the area of the cemetery. It was later located in an alley off Main Street across the street from the offices of the Trinity Standard. Officers using marked and unmarked vehicles quickly moved into the area, surrounded the minivan and moved in to make the arrest. As officers moved in, Nance was seen exiting the vehicle and is believed to have tossed a small baggy containing two to three grams of methamphetamines onto the ground. The drugs were recovered and Nance was taken into custody. Two other people in the minivan were not believed to have had knowledge of the pending drug deal or the methamphetamines. “Evidence indicated they were just giving Nance a ride home from Huntsville and were not aware of a drug deal,” Jones said. However, the owner of the vehicle, Karen White, 43, of Huntsville was arrested on a misdemeanor possession of controlled substance charge after officers found a number of pills – including one tablet believed to be ecstasy. The pills are being forwarded to a laboratory for analysis. In addition to Jones and Huffman, other officers involved in the arrest included Larry Barak and Daniel Adams. The arrest of Lakey came about 2 a.m. on July 4 as part of a joint investigation conducted by Trinity Police, the Precinct 3 Constable’s Office and Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace. Jones said investigators received intelligence that a drug dealer was coming to Trinity to sell his “product” and officers were organized to locate his vehicle. As the suspect vehicle came through Trinity, officers attempted to stop it on Highway 19 (Robb Street) at the Madison Street intersection on a traffic violation. “The car continued slow rolling north on Robb and turned right onto Main. It didn’t look like he was going to pull over so another officer in an unmarked car moved into position to cut him off,” Jones said. The car was finally stopped on East Main in front of the Trinity Standard office. Officer Barak recovered a half ounce (14 grams) of methamphetamines hidden in the vehicle’s forward consol. The drugs have an estimated street value of $1,400. Jones noted that Lakey was charged with a first degree felony and could face from five to 99 years in prison if convicted. The suspect also was charged with driving while his license was invalid. Lakey was identified as the driver of the vehicle, which also contained three passengers. None of the passengers were charged in connection with the meth. However one of them, Sabrina Brust, 29, was taken into custody when it was learned she had an outstanding theft by check warrant issued in Waller County. Officers involved in this arrest include Jones, Wallace, Barak, Officer Travis Bryan, Precinct 3 Deputy Constable Wayne Huffman and Pct. 1 Deputy Constable Mark Cole. The arrest of Gatlin came July 3 when officers received a series of tips that a methamphetamine deal was set to be made in the Brookshire Brothers grocery story parking lot. While Trinity Police Sgt. Randy Wheeler followed the suspected drug dealer’s vehicle, Jones and Constable Wallace moved into the area of Brookshire Brothers to keep an eye on the suspect drug buyers. Jones indicated that after arriving on the scene, they came to believe that the drug deal may have transpired before they arrived and stopped to confront the suspect buyer. When told of the evidence police had obtained through their undercover sources, Jones said the suspect admitted to having swallowed a small bag containing methamphetamines. Jones said that while standing in the parking lot, the woman voluntarily forced herself to vomit and the drugs were recovered. Jones noted that at the time of her arrest, Gatlin was already on probation after being convicted on a felony possession of controlled substance charge. That earlier charge came from a Feb. 16 arrest made by Jones on Wallace involving three suspects at a residence in the Pinecrest Subdivision near Trinity. Since her July 3 arrest, Gatlin has entered a guilty plea to the drug charge and was sentence to four years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s prison system.


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