With the participation of the SEMO Drug Task Force and about half of the warrants being drug-related, it was easy to mistake the operation as a "drug raid," but targeted suspects with state and local warrants were actually wanted on a variety of charges including robbery, burglary and first-degree assault.
"This was a raid to serve criminal arrest warrants which did include approximately 30 drug-related warrants," said Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden.
Adding in seven more who were on the warrant list but picked up earlier in the week during vehicle stops or chance encounters, a total of 30 arrests were made for the roundup.
The majority of the warrants were from Sikeston, Scott and New Madrid counties, and Miner, according to DPS officials.
Describing it as an "excellent" operation, Juden praised the "great cooperation between all the agencies."
Nearly 80 law enforcement officers participated, according to Juden. In addition to members of the SEMO Drug Task Force, DPS was also assisted by law enforcement officers from the Scott County Sheriff's Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The dark helicopter spotted by many hovering over Sikeston during the raids was supplied by the National Guard to assist in tracking "any runners, vehicle pursuits, foot pursuits," said Capt. Mark Crocker, which is now a standard procedure for such operations. The helicopter was also used to capture a video of the operation.
Preparation for the raid began three to four months ago, Juden said. "It takes a long time to put one of these together," he said.
Starting with a list of about 67 warrants, officers began making arrests shortly after 6 a.m. Friday and wrapped up that part of the operation by 11 a.m., although transportation to area jails continued into the day.
"Most of them went to Scott County (jail)," said Juden. Prisoners were also taken to the Mississippi and Pemiscot county jails.
Juden said the department plans for "worst-case scenarios" in which suspects fire upon officers during this type of operation, resulting in officers being ready for anything, but this particular operation went very smoothly.
With that many officers on the job, "it's a little difficult for people to run and get away," Juden said. "It doesn't take long for word to get on the street."
Also, Juden said, offenders know now that the air support makes their chances for getting away pretty slim.
The Special Operations Group was used for one arrest when the subject at a Dixie Street address refused to answer the door. "We had the one guy barricade himself in the house," said Juden.
It was at this location that Shekiah Mitchell, 22, was arrested for hindering prosecution after telling authorities that the subject was not present.
The subject, Marcus Robinson, 25, was found hiding under the bed.
Another woman not on the warrant list was arrested for attempting to harbor and protect a fugitive but her name is being withheld pending the filing of formal charges, Crocker said.
DPS officials reported that a wanted person was observed getting into her car which sped away as officers approached. "She attempted to run over two of the officers," Juden said.
The vehicle was stopped two blocks away and both subjects were arrested.
The passenger reportedly admitted to pressing down the car's accelerator, but DPS officials are asking for first degree assault charges on the driver in addition to charges for drugs reportedly recovered from the vehicle.
Other than those two incidents, arrested subjects were fairly cooperative although there were "a lot of tears," Crocker said.
Crocker said authorities got nearly half of the people on their list. Considering that many on the list tend to change addresses frequently, "that is a pretty good day," he said. Referring to the Friday raids as the "summer roundup," Juden said: "Our hope is it sets the tone for the rest of the summer."
The raid is also another reflection of the city's "no tolerance" stance, he added, as well as a regional trend.
"Everybody's tired of putting up with these thugs," Juden said. Officials are working hard to push them "out of the city, the county, the state and out of the country hopefully."
He estimated that 10 percent of the population is responsible for 90 percent of the problems faced by the department. "One of the messages we're trying to send out there," Juden said, "is that we will continue to take the troublemakers ... out of our jurisdiction."
Juden estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the arrests made Friday were on felony warrants. "We put priority on the felonies," Crocker confirmed, "and work our way down."
The department will now begin preparing for the next large-scale raid.
"There will be future operations," said Juden. "We try to do these two to four times per year."
As always, the Sikeston Department of Public Safety encourages anyone with information about these incidents or any crimes to call 471-6200 or 471-1500. All communications are confidential.