By Joel Hall
After a seven-month investigation, Clayton County Police Department narcotics agents and the Forest Park Police Department arrested Reginald Ridley, who until Monday, allegedly headed one of the largest drug operations in the northern part of the county.
In early morning raids on three addresses, police seized more than $1 million in drugs, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and anti-surveillance equipment.
Police executed raids at Ridley's girlfriend's residence at 6847 Red Maple, Drive in Rex, an alleged stash house, located at 5067 Davis Drive in Forest Park, and Ridley's primary residence at 391 Second Street in Forest Park.
In the three raids, officers confiscated eight kilograms of high-grade, suspected cocaine, one kilogram of suspected heroin, 100 pounds of suspected, mid-grade marijuana, $12,000 in cash, 12 vehicles, as well as four firearms -- including a .22 caliber rifle, a revolver, a semi-automatic rifle, and an antique, 1895 Mauser .308 caliber, single-shot rifle.
Ridley, 40, was arrested at his primary residence without incident, according to police officers. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected to be made in the next several days.
Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said the raids have bankrupted one of the county's largest drug operations.
"He was the top person in a major drug-moving operation," said Turner. "[Seizing] this amount of marijuana and cocaine is definitely going to cripple someone's organization.
"This is an individual who should be put away for a long, long time," Turner added.
Capt. Ricky McCain, assistant commander of the Clayton County Police Narcotics Gang Task Force, said this was not the first time officers had executed a warrant at Ridley's home. Over two years ago, officers conducted a no-knock warrant, seizing a large stash of firearms. Ridley, however, was never charged, McCain said.
McCain added that Ridley went to great lengths to hide his product, including storing drugs inside "false walls" and storing cash in "false ceilings." McCain said Ridley's arrest puts a "big dent in the drug dealing business" in the Forest Park area.
Clayton County Police Public Information Officer Tim Owens said removing the drug stockpile will help reduce the amount of "street-level crime" in the area associated with rival drug dealers and opportunists.
"Anytime you have that many drugs, other drug dealers are going to try to take you down," said Owens. "It's going to encourage street-level crime, because people are going to try to get those drugs anyway they are available."
Turner said the arrest was the result of community-oriented policing. "The citizens of Clayton County are tired of seeing this trash on the streets and they are calling in," said Turner. "This is the result of cooperation between us and them."