House, field party busts nab 24

Published 11:59 pm Monday, February 9, 2009

Teen alcohol and drug use are on the rise in Covington County, and the arrests made this weekend prove it, said Lt. Lance Price with the Alabama Beverage Control Board Monday.

On Friday, agents targeted minors in consumption of alcoholic beverages and those furnishing those beverages in two locations in Coving-ton County and two in Butler County, Price said.

“While on our way back from Butler County, we received a call from Command of a house party complaint near Opp on Frank Tisdale Road,” he said. “Once we arrived, we found eight individuals – two of which were juveniles – consuming alcohol and smoking marijuana in the garage area next to the house.”

Price said the oldest person there – 29-year-old Nicky Lyon – faces two counts of contributing to a minor, four counts of furnishing a controlled substance, as well as other counts for the incident. Lyon was being held in the county jail under a $335,000 bond.

“The incident in itself was fairly unusual, because of the blatant disrespect for the law,” he said. “The 29-year-old is believed to be a registered sex offender and with three females present at the time, it wasn’t a good situation.”

The arrests continued Saturday after agents received a tip from a concerned citizen/parent about a suspected “field party” being held in Onycha, Price said.

“The tip was it was a birthday party and kids from Opp, Andalusia, Straughn, all the surrounding communities were coming,” he said. “We did some surveillance of where we thought the location was going to be. We had two agents in the woods for several hours watching the situation so that we could establish probable cause.”

Price said the agents were close enough to overhear conversations about using marijuana.

“They saw several individuals smoking what (agents) believed to be marijuana cigarettes and overheard them talking about marijuana,” he said. “We were that close to them.”

Price said as the crowd grew larger, agents moved in to diffuse the situation.

“That’s when several individuals ran into the woods; a few came back on their own and we caught a few in the woods and at home,” he said. “And even a few were brought back to us.”

What made this situation unique was not that individuals ran from agents, but the fact that a loaded handgun was found inside one of the vehicles at the scene.

“It even had the serial number filed off,” he said. “We also found alcoholic beverages and marijuana in several vehicles. This situation could have very well ended up like the one in Prattville where a young man lost his life at a field party. It could easily happen when you mix alcohol, drugs and firearms.”

Price said two agents were hurt and a Sheriff’s Office vehicle wrecked during the incident.

“We had 16 arrested and about 10 that got a way,” he said. “And we have the names of those who fled and warrants will be obtained. So, it’s best to just turn yourself in.”

Price said he hoped news of the night’s activities would shed more light on what his agency believes is a prevalent problem in the county.

“Alcohol and drug use by our teens is a problem in the community,” he said. “These arrests, two nights in a row, prove it. Until parents and the public believe ‘having a beer’ is not just a kid being a kid.

“It’s against the law,” he said. “And parents need to put their foot down. Until they do, it won’t go away. We would rather have a parent come and pick up their child at the scene than have to come down and pick them out at the morgue.”

Price said approximately 50 people were arrested and more are pending from the 115 cases worked this weekend, thanks partly to the assistance from the Covington County Sheriff’s Office, Opp Police Department and the Alabama State Troopers.