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Prisoners from Augusta gang round-up, federal penitentiary fill local jail

More than half of the suspects arrested by local, state and federal authorities last week in Richmond County in a crackdown on major gang activities are being held in the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center in Thomson.

At least one of those arrests occurred in Thomson, according to local authorities. An outstanding warrant was served on 20-year-old Jonathan Bridges, of a Cedar Street address in Thomson, according to jail records. He faces A drug charge, accoridng to Lt. Scott Whittle with the Thomson Police Department.

A total of 93 people were targeted in the 16-month undercover investigation, which was conducted by deputies with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department, U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau and U.S. Marshals Service last Wednesday in several neighborhoods of Richmond County. Also participating in the roundup of the suspects was Herbert Craven, an airplane/helicopter pilot with the Georgia State Patrol's Aviation Unit, stationed in Thomson.

Maj. Ronnie Williamson of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department said a total of 39 federal inmates are being held in the local jail. The suspects, all of whom are being held on assorted weapons and drugs charges, are expected to be held in Thomson for several weeks, possibly months.

The ranking sheriff's official said 19 other federal inmates were bussed from the jail last Thursday by the U.S. Marshals' Service. Those suspects were being held for the U.S. Bureau of Federal Prisons.

The McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center is just one of several county jails within the CSRA that house federal inmates at a certain cost per day to federal law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Marshals' Service, FBI and U.S. Bureau of Federal Prisons, according to Maj. Williamson.

Federal agencies pay McDuffie County $42 per inmate, per day, he added.

"The money collected goes back into the county's general treasury fund," Maj. Williamson said.

Web posted on Thursday, November 22, 2007

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