Columbus police arrested a dozen people, including two teenagers, over an eight-hour period Wednesday as part of a drug investigation.
The investigation culminated in a SWAT team raid of a home that had been under surveillance as a possible hotspot of methamphetamine sales for three months.
A 42-year-old man who police say made a drug deal with a 17-year-old boy outside the home Wednesday afternoon remains at large, Columbus police spokesman Matt Myers said.
When police, armed with a search warrant and led by armed SWAT team officers, raided the home shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday, the 42-year-old was not there.
But the home was filled with nine other people, all of whom were arrested on various drug-related charges.
Myers said the raid was the result of an investigation into activities at the home that started late last year after neighbors tipped off police to suspicious activity there.
“We don’t want these types of houses in our community, and we want to do whatever we can with the help of neighbors to get this sort of thing taken care of,” Myers said Thursday. “The neighborhood played a major role providing us information that led to us shutting this place down.”
The arrests began at midafternoon Wednesday.
The first action occurred when undercover officers saw a presumed drug sale involving a 17-year-old boy occur at 1:33 p.m. Wednesday outside the home in the first block of South Hinman Street, Myers said. The boy returned to a car driven by an adult woman, and police followed the vehicle.
Patrol Officer Angie Owens pulled the car over at Seventh and Cottage streets and arrested the driver, Megan M. Nyberg, 31, of 3847 Golden Maize Drive, on a charge of driving with a suspended license, Myers said.
During a search, police found methamphetamine and needles in Nyberg’s purse, Myers said. She was then charged with possession of methamphetamine, a Class D felony.
Myers said the other occupants of the car were the 17-year-old boy whom police had seen a few minutes earlier and a 17-year-old girl.
The boy was charged with dealing methamphetamine, a Class D felony; and the girl, who had methamphetamine in her possession, was charged with possession, Myers said. Both teenagers were taken to the Bartholomew County Youth Services Center.
When uniformed officers, detectives and a SWAT team arrived at 8:46 p.m. Wednesday, there were few drugs on the scene, although the home was filled with nine occupants or visitors, two of whom were smoking marijuana when police entered, Myers said.
Police believe the home was equipped with cameras or other surveillance equipment, and at least one other occupant may have been able to get away before police arrived. A sticky note next to a computer in a back room read: “7 police cars, two unmarked cars and a silver van with four cops in it.”
Myers said those handwritten words seemed to refer to the police units that had the home under surveillance or that drove up to the dwelling when the raid was about to take place.
Here’s what police found inside the home:
“There was a small amount of marijuana and methamphetamine in packets for sale, needles and other drug paraphernalia,” Myers said.
A few doses of methamphetamine powder were wrapped in twisted cellophane scraps, along with small plastic bags, a small amount of marijuana, other drug paraphernalia, several scales for weighing material and roughly $200 worth of batteries. All the merchandise was seized by police.
There was no evidence “of cooking” and no meth lab hardware in the home, Myers added.
In addition to the arrests of Nyberg and the two teenagers, the nine people arrested at the home were:
- Dawn M. Price, 42, of Edinburgh for possession of methamphetamine and visiting a common nuisance, both Class D felonies. Price also was charged with identity deception for reportedly giving police a false name.
- Rebecca S. Woods, 35, 2108 Sixth St., visiting a common nuisance, a Class D felony.
- Tumara Burton, 24, 1330 Central Ave., visiting a common nuisance; and two warrants from Bartholomew County, including one for possession of methamphetamine, a Class D felony.
- Adam Fugate, 51, of 52 S. Hinman St., on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia, both Class A misdemeanors; possession of methamphetamine; and maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony.
- Dawn Linville, 39, 52 S. Hinman St., for possession of a syringe, a Class A misdemeanor; possession of methamphetamine; maintaining a common nuisance; and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
- Mark Turnbloom, 45, Greensburg, for visiting a common nuisance.
- Serenity D. Smith, 32, of Westport, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia and visiting a common nuisance.
- Tina Spears, 36, 611 Garden St., visiting a common nuisance.
- Charles M. Allen Jr. of Westport, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
A Class D felony carries a potential jail sentence of six months to three years. Punishment for Class A misdemeanors is up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash will determine what, if any, formal charges will be filed.