134 arrests in Twiggs County weekend roadblock

Operation Wrong Exit nets 134 arrests, 7 pounds of pot, 6 guns

lfabian@macon.comMarch 20, 2014 

  • The 2014 Operation "Wrong Exit" netted 7 pounds of pot, 6 weapons and landed 134 people in jail. The St. Patrick's weekend checkpoint is becoming a Twiggs County tradition. Video by Liz Fabian

Motorists trying to avoid a road check on Interstate 16 in Twiggs County drove straight into one last weekend.

A coalition of 17 law enforcement agencies used lighted signs to warn of an upcoming DUI checkpoint, which led some drivers to exit at the next ramp, which is where officers were waiting.

“It’s not entrapment,” Twiggs County Sheriff Darren Mitchum said during a news briefing Thursday morning. “There’s absolutely nothing there to make them get off at that exit.”

The 15th annual Operation Wrong Exit resulted in the arrest of 134 people, issuance of 297 citations and seizure of about seven pounds of marijuana at the Ga. 358 exit Friday and Saturday when revelers were headed to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Savannah.

“These folks were going to party, y’all, and had a slight interruption,” said Col. Billy Boney, Twiggs chief deputy. “I wonder what they’re thinking today about the party they planned last week.”

Officers caught 19 people who had warrants out for their arrest. Some of those caught had been through the same scenario last year and got nabbed again.

“People that are drinking or intoxicated on drugs are not really thinking clearly because some of them came through the same checkpoint during the same time last year,” Mitchum said.

All vehicles taking exit 27 were stopped.

“They exited to go to Danville or Warner Robins, or go to jail,” Boney said.

The driver of a borrowed Middle Georgia church van was accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, Georgia Tech biology department workers were accused of having cocaine and a gun in a school vehicle, and one woman was reportedly carrying medical marijuana from Colorado.

Mitchum said women outnumbered men arrested in the ninth operation of his tenure as sheriff.

Felony marijuana possession resulted in 14 arrests, misdemeanor marijuana possession resulted in 64 arrests and officers also confiscated a few ounces of cocaine, Boney said.

Nearly 80 officers working through the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Middle Georgia Traffic Enforcement Network also seized $5,000, five vehicles and a half dozen guns, including a Kel-Tec 5.56/.223 pistol that’s more like an assault rifle, Boney said.

“That is a bad gun for a police officer to run up on,” Boney said. “On a good day, a police officer has about 20 rounds on him, and going up against more than 100 rounds is not a good thing.”

The checkpoint also snared 15 people charged with DUI and 38 instances of traveling with an open container of alcohol.

Being proactive in intercepting those drivers can save lives, the sheriff said.

“The goal right now is to get traffic fatalities below a thousand for a year,” said Lt. Bryan Hunter, of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “We’ve been slowly getting there. Every year, we’ve had a reduction in fatalities for the past eight years. That’s what we’re trying to do is save lives.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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