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Dakota sniffs-out contraband

WINDSOR – Perhaps one of the best crime-fighting tools in the arsenal of the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office works for nothing more than food, water and a pat on the head.

BCSO K-9 “Dakota” is being credited with a major recovery of marijuana here last week, a discovery that landed two men in jail and led to warrants being drawn on a third individual.

Lavern Marqis Rankins, 25 of 105 Leaf Street, Windsor, and Tjadqua Jensard Sanderlin, 18, of 108 West Franklin Street, Williamston, were arrested after more than four ounces of marijuana were discovered.

Rankins, jailed under a $10,000 bond, was charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and maintaining a dwelling as a place to keep, store and sell a controlled substance.

Sanderlin, also placed behind bars under a $10,000 bond, faces a charge of possession with intent to sell marijuana.

A third man, Lemuel Hill (age and address unknown), is currently being sought by Bertie County law enforcement officers. Warrants for possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and maintaining a vehicle as a place to keep, store and sell a controlled substance have been drawn, but not yet served, against Hill.

The two arrests to date came on the heels of citizen complaints lodged in the area of Leaf Street in Windsor. Acting upon those complaints, BCSO Narcotics Division Detectives Frank Timberlake and Kenny Gilliam were working that area on March 31.

Joined by other BCSO lawmen as well as officers with the Windsor Police Department, Timberlake and Gilliam arrived at 105 Leaf Street where officers observed Sanderlin toss what appeared to be approximately one ounce of marijuana, packaged for sell, on the ground. A search warrant for the residence of 105 Leaf Street was served.

This is the residence of Rankins.

Rankins, who was stopped on a vehicle prior to the search warrant being served at his residence, was taken back to the residence where “Dakota” went to work. The K-9 officer discovered a small amount of marijuana packaged for sell inside the house and another plastic bag containing approximately one ounce of marijuana packaged for sell from outside of the residence.

Also discovered inside the residence was packaging material. In addition, approximately $800 in cash was in Rankins’ possession.

While outside, “Dakota” used his skills to sniff-out an additional two ounces of marijuana in a car located outside the home. Those drugs were found in the engine compartment of the vehicle.

According to Timberlake, this vehicle was in control of Hill who was identified leaving the residence as officers arrived.

Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins expressed his pride in the efforts undertaken by the law enforcement officers working this case.

“We may be small in number, but the men and women working to protect and serve the citizens of Bertie County are well-trained and more than capable of performing their duties, as is evident by this case,” Atkins said. “We will continue to put our training to use as we continue to fight this war against illegal drugs.”

The Sheriff also thanked the citizens for their input.

Timberlake praised the efforts of “Dakota” in helping the officers to quickly locate the illegal contraband.

“Dakota was able to locate marijuana all over the residence and property within minutes of his arrival,” Timberlake said.

“We are lucky to have such a good K-9. He has made such a difference in cutting manpower and improving the results of searches.

It gives the officers confidence to walk away from a search warrant feeling that they have not missed finding drugs which, if left behind, would be back on our streets and in reach of our children.”