Coke bust largest in 10 years

By John Philleo


Moffett

Wilbanks

LOWER LEFT:  This bag containing crack cocaine was found in the nearby air conditioning vent.  LOWER RIGHT: These bags containing powder cocaine were found in the bathroom.

 

The McNairy County Narcotics Unit recently conducted the largest cocaine bust in the county’s recent history.

The unit, which is comprised of officers from both the McNairy County Sheriff’s Deparment and the Selmer Police Department, stormed a house at 1960 Nelson Store Road just before midnight on April 12.

They busted the door in with a ram and entered the residence with vests on and guns drawn.

“They were pretty surprised,” said investigator Brad Johnson Tuesday, “They were asleep, except for Derrick (Moffett), who was coming out of the bathroom.”

Mason Thomas Wilbanks was in a recliner to the left of the door, and Johnnalache Brown and her child were on the couch in front of the door, according to the affidavit signed by Johnson.

“Everybody was compliant,” Johnson said. 

Upon searching the residence, the investigators found more than a half a kilogram of cocaine, a digital scale, and nearly $3,000 in cash.

In the bathroom, officers discovered a plastic bag containing large amount of powder cocaine that had been hastily hidden under a pile of clothes, Johnson said.

Upon searching the bedroom, investigators found another bag, this one containing a large amount of crack cocaine, in the air conditioning vent in the floor next to the bed.

“We try to look everywhere where someone might hide something,” Johnson said.

No weapons were found in the residence.

Moffett, of 1960 Nelson Store Road, and Wilbanks, of 65 Baker St. in Savannah, were both charged with manufacturing/sale/delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Brown was not charged with anything.

Moffett posted bail and is out of jail on bond, while Wilbanks is being held and faces other charges in Wayne County.

Johnson said he suspects the two men were involved in distributing large amounts of cocaine to smaller dealers in the area, and that the bust put a significant dent in the McNairy County cocaine market. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

“There were a lot of unhappy people,” Johnson said, referring to cocaine users in the area who couldn’t get their drugs following the bust.

The bust was the result of an ongoing investigation over the past few months, and was one of the largest in recent history.

“It’s been the largest one in at least the last 10 years,” Johnson said. “It felt good because it was the culmination of several months’ work.”

Investigators Kim Holley, James Frazier and Lynn Ingle, and Sgt. Steve Ellsworth, also participated in the operation.