WINSTON COUNTY - During a busy four days of making fentanyl-related arrests, one subject was found hiding in an attic, while a subject in a separate case was found splashing water in a ditch and lying in a driveway, according to the Winston County Sheriff’s Office.
In all, three major users of the deadly drug fentanyl have been taken off the street by the sheriff’s office in two separate cases. Arrested at the first scene of drug activity, 1058 County Road 416 in Double Springs, were Heath Allen Self, 30, the owner of the residence. He was charged with one count of trafficking fentanyl, four counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of possession of marijuana second degree and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Also arrested was Virginia Lorraine Bailey, 31, who also resides at the residence. She was charged on the warrants of two counts distribution of a controlled substance, giving false name to law enforcement, failure to appear on possession of drug paraphernalia and trafficking fentanyl, according to Bennett.
Charges Bailey faces from findings at the scene including one count trafficking Fentanyl, four counts possession of a controlled substance, one count possession of marijuana second degree and one count possession of drug paraphernalia, Bennett added.
“It’s always good to get dangerous drugs off the street, especially fentanyl,” Eward pointed out.
“We’ve had several cases where people have overdosed on fentanyl and have died from it, so the more of it we can get off the streets, the more lives we can save.
“It’s a thousand times more potent than morphine, and it’s the most dangerous drug there is right now,” Eward stressed.
Around 3 p.m. Feb. 17, Bennett was serving felony drug warrants on Bailey, at her residence at 1058 County Road 416, Double Springs, when fentanyl and other drugs were found, Bennett said.
Joining Bennett at the scene, in attempt of serving the felony warrants, were Sheriff Caleb Snoddy and Chief Deputy Jacob Eward, responding to find a male subject standing outside the residence.
The male subject, identified as Self, 30, was owner of the address, who, when questioned about Bailey’s whereabouts, told law enforcement that she was inside the residence, Bennett stated.
Law enforcement entered the residence on the search warrant, and, during a search of Bailey, they noticed the access panel leading to the attic had been moved, according to Bennett.
Law enforcement climbed up into the attic, where they found Bailey lying down, attempting to hide, Bennett pointed out.
Law enforcement escorted Bailey to the attic entrance, where she was apprehended by Eward on the felony warrants, sheriff’s officials said.
Based on evidence of drugs and paraphernalia in plain view in the lower level of the residence-- such as pipes, grinder, methamphetamine and fentanyl-- Self was also taken into custody, Bennett pointed out.
The residence was secured, with Eward monitoring the scene, while Bennett went to obtain a search warrant for the residence, sheriff’s officials said.
Bailey and Self were transported from the scene to the Winston County Jail, authorities said.
Bennett returned with the search warrant, which resulted in a search not only of the residence but two vehicles and outbuildings, where drugs and firearms were located, sheriff’s officials stated.
Inside the residence, methamphetamine was found as well as fentanyl, assorted pills, marijuana in a cookie bag and a large amount of paraphernalia, Bennett noted.
Meth was found in a barn on the property, fentanyl and a pistol found in a black Dodge Charger and pistol in a Black Dodge Journey SUV, according to Bennett.
In total, 8.9 grams of meth were found throughout the property as well as 1 gram of fentanyl (which results in a trafficking charge for any item one gram or larger), sheriff’s officials said.
Also found were such medications as Tramadol (a synthetic opioid), Cyclobenzaprine Hydrochloride (anti-depressant or a Schedule 2 narcotic), Clonazepam (also used to treat depression), and seven grams of marijuana, according to Bennett.
Man splashing water in ditch found with fentanyl
“Any fentanyl off the streets is a good amount,” pointed out Sheriff’s Deputy Nic Burns, who arrested the third subject for the drug’s possession in the four-day period.
Arrested in this second case of fentanyl possession, on Feb. 21, was James Mitchell Smith, 48, of 208 Giles Road, Jasper, charged with trafficking fentanyl (one gram or more) and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to sheriff’s officials.
Burns received a call around noon on Tuesday, Feb. 21, to Curry Highway just south of Duncan Bridge, that an individual was playing in the ditch splashing water and was lying in a driveway without wearing a shirt, he said.
Burns responded to the scene, observing a male subject standing on the side of the highway, wearing blue jeans that fit the description given by the caller, he stated.
“He was standing up leaning back and forth,” Burns said, adding he stopped and talked with the subject.
“I asked if he had anything on him that would cause him to act the way he was acting,” said Burns. “...He admitted he had (drug) paraphernalia on him,” Burns noted.
The subject produced from his pocket two unused capped syringes,” he added.
After receiving consent, a pat-down of the subject, found a third syringe, this one was used and capped, Burns said.
The subject was also carrying a black plastic bag, and Burns, upon receiving consent to search, found a paraphernalia box as well as fentanyl, according to Burns.
Found inside the bag was one gram of fentanyl inside a clear bag inside the box, Burns added.
“We believed it to be heroin. He told me it was heroin,” Burns pointed out. “It tested negative for heroin, and when we did a field test for fentanyl, it tested positive.”
Fentanyl and heroin often confused
The reason fentanyl may often be confused with heroin is that both drugs are similar in color, according to law enforcement officials.
“Some dealers actually give people fentanyl and tell them it’s heroin, because it’s more powerful than heroin,” Eward noted. “They think that by doing that, they will come back and get more.
“That’s one of the reasons, too, why we’re having so many overdoses, is people are thinking it’s one drug, when it actually turns out to be fentanyl, and they don’t have that high of a tolerance,” Eward added.
Smith was taken into custody and transported without incident to the Winston County Jail, Burns said.
*When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation until or unless proven guilty in a court of law.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.