Five people suspected of dealing drugs were arrested Thursday when teams of officers served arrest warrants in an operation dubbed Payson Street Sweeper.
The law enforcement teams, organized by the Gila County Narcotics Task Force, were hunting 16 people who had been named in the arrest warrants issued by the Payson Justice Court.
Four of those arrested Thursday -- Bart Fieseler, 44, Alan Werley, 48, Brian K. Davis, 36 and Harry M. Heidrich, 48 -- were located immediately and arrested on charges off selling illegal drugs to undercover officers.
Alana Martinez, 37, was arrested later Thursday after leaving the hospital.
A sixth person named in a warrant, Michael Armstrong, 24, was arrested Sunday and a seventh person, Christian Wrathall, turned himself in to police Monday.
Task Force Det. Jimmy Oestmann said five other people named in the warrants are in custody for unrelated charges.
"We still have five outstanding warrants," Task Force Supervisor Sgt. Jaime Escobedo said Monday. "And we will continue looking for them."
Operation Payson Street Sweeper has been part of an ongoing effort to target street-level drug dealers who are responsible for most of the distribution of meth, marijuana, cocaine and prescription narcotics in the Payson area, according to a task force press release.
Escobedo said Operation Payson Street Sweeper is the second phase of a series of drug investigations that began in December 2002.
"The first phase was Operation Payson Clean Sweep," Escobedo said. "That resulted in seven people being convicted of felony drug sales. One case is still pending."
Oestmann said undercover officers have been working the streets to buy drugs from dealers.
"We purchased drugs from our suspects between one and four times," Oestmann said. "Some will be charged with conspiracy because they helped facilitate a drug transaction. If they didn't have the drugs, they took us to someone who did."
Oestmann would not go into detail about the covert operations involved in Payson Clean Sweep or Payson Street Sweeper.
"We have our methods," he said.
Oestmann said drug dealers usually pool their money and buy in bulk either in the Valley or in Tucson and bring the drugs back to Payson for distribution.
Oestmann said several other suspects are still under investigation by the task force.
"We want to send a very clear message to anyone involved in the sales, distribution, trafficking or use of drugs within Gila County," Oestmann said. "They will be arrested and prosecuted."
Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores said a grand jury will meet this week to decide whether to indict those arrested in the sweep.
Operation Payson Street Sweeper (June 2003 to Aug. 2004)
Arrested Aug. 19, 2004
- Bart Fieseler, 44 - charged with one count of sale of dangerous drugs.
- Alana Martinez, 37 - charged with three counts of dangerous drugs for sale.
- Alan Werley, 48 - charged with three counts of sale of dangerous drugs and one count of offering to sell a dangerous drug.
- Brian K. Davis, 36 - charged with three counts of sale of dangerous drugs.
- Harry M. Heidrich, 48 - charged with three counts of sale of dangerous drugs.
Arrested Aug. 22, 2004
- Michael Armstrong, 24 - charged with one count of sale of dangerous drugs.
Arrested Aug. 23, 2004
- Christian Wrathall, 20, three counts of sale of dangerous drugs.
Others charged but already in custody:
- Shannon Chambers, 27 - charged with two counts of sales of dangerous drugs and two counts of offering to sell dangerous drugs. (Currently incarcerated following arrest for aggravated assault - domestic violence.)
- Neil Dudley, 53 - charged with three counts of sale of dangerous drugs. Currently in prison for other drug charges.
- Stefan Bernhardt, 20 - charged with three counts of sale of dangerous drugs. Currently in county jail.
- Michael Childers, 44 - charged with one count of sale of dangerous drugs.
- Danny L. Middleton, 45 - charged with one count sale of dangerous drugs.
Operation Payson Clean Sweep (December 2002 to April 2003)
- Jeremy A. Simko, 22;
- Daryle E. Schatz, 50;
- Jennifer Turner, 46;
- Kelly J. Atkin, 24;
- Tia Nottingham, 22;
- Lori Rawdon, 40;
- Rigoberto Lopez, 20;
- Ricky Powell, 45;
- David Wilamowski, 36.