An 88-year-old grandmother is believed to have served as a lookout for a methamphetamine distribution operation in Trinity County.
The grandmother was one of three suspects at a house in The Landing subdivision between Groveton and Trinity that was raided by Trinity County Sheriff's Office deputies Sunday. Two people were arrested at the scene, and TCSO deputies seized "several grams" of pre-packaged meth.
"She didn't actually hand us the drugs," said Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace. "We would need for someone to actually hand us a drug or prove that she had knowledge that that's what was taking place. We feel that she did because she was looking out the window when we raided the house with the search warrant."
Larry Rawson Sr., 54, was arrested at the scene for manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance. Devon Sarafas, 38, was also arrested at the scene, and she was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.
Wallace said the Trinity County Sheriff's Office was initially called out to the residence in The Landing on July 11 for an overdose. When they arrived on the scene, they met with Michael Rawson, who was arrested on outstanding warrants later that day after he was taken to a local hospital and cleared in regard to health concerns.
While the authorities were at the scene, Wallace told Michael Rawson's father, Larry Rawson, and 88-year-old grandmother that they knew they were dealing drugs out of their house.
"We've been watching them for quite some time, and basically, I gave them the option to quit, or we would be back shortly," Wallace said. "Well, they didn't heed the warning."
Wallace said they sent an undercover officer to the home in The Landing on July 13.
"In the residence while we were doing the undercover buys, we would notice that there would be an elderly woman that would be watching out the window as the drug transaction was taking place inside," Wallace said. "So we decided that we're going to check her involvement out, and we're going to let a grand jury decide whether she needed to be charged or not. That is going to a grand jury this next month. Given her age, we didn't feel that it's appropriate to just go and put her in jail. We want to be a little more careful with that."
Wallace said as soon as the TCSO deputies "busted in" the door, the 88-year-old woman started "screaming and hollering." When she realized that they were the police, she started crying.
"But she was ready to fight when we first showed up," Wallace said.
The undercover deputy made two $40 meth purchases. It was enough for the TCSO to obtain a search warrant, and they raided the house the next day.
The house in question has been on Trinity County authorities' radar for quite a while. Wallace said his deputies have been monitoring this residence and other suspected drug houses since he took office as sheriff in January. Wallace said the house in The Landing was first brought to his attention several years ago, when he was still serving as a constable.
As a result TCSO deputies made several trips out to the subdivision to observe the goings on at the house.
"We'd see known drug users go into the house, all hours of the night," Wallace said. "They would go in, come back out within two or three minutes - it's a good indication they're trafficking drugs out of there. So like I said it was well known. They were doing major quantities out of this house."
Wallace said they think the people involved in the meth operation were getting the drug from the Houston area.
"The district attorney and I have decided that we're going to take a very strong approach to deterring anybody who wants to sell drugs in Trinity County," Wallace said. "And we basically said that if there's a way that we can legally start seizing these people's property and costing these people the same amount of money that they're costing the system and costing the tax payers, then that's what we're going to do."
"I gave them the option to quit or we would be back shortly," Wallace said. "Well they didn't heed the warning."
A video shows the dialogue between Wallace and Rowson:
Rowson: "Yes Sir."
Wallace: "I told you I'd be back."
Rowson: "Yes Sir."
Wallace: "I told you if you continued selling drugs I'd be back."
Rowson: "I hadn't sold anything."
Along those lines, Trinity County authorities have filed to seize the home and the property it sits on in The Landing. Wallace said they plan to file for seizure on every vehicle and house that are involved in drug distribution operations.
"We'll take the stuff away from criminals and maybe sell it to law-abiding citizens," Wallace said.
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