Ridgeland Cocaine Dealer Receives a 60-Year Sentence

For Immediate Release
June 3, 2010
For more information, please contact
Michael Guest at (601) 825-1472

Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Michael Guest announced today that William Thornton Harper received a 60-year sentence for selling cocaine in Rankin and Madison Counties. Harper also pled guilty to a 2001 charge of stealing a law enforcement vehicle in Madison County. Through the plea agreement, the last twenty years of his sentence were suspended.

On March 7, 2008, the Flowood Police Department, through the use of a confidential informant, attempted to purchase cocaine from Harper. The informant contacted Harper and established a time and place to meet him in order to purchase $300 of powder cocaine. When Harper arrived at the pre-arraigned meeting location he became suspicious that he had been set up, and he attempted to leave before the transaction occurred.

Harper started to leave in his car, but law enforcement decided to go ahead and arrest Harper and blocked his car with theirs as he attempted to leave the area. Harper jumped out of his vehicle, and a foot chase ensued, involving several officers. A police K9 was released and was able to force Harper into an enclosed fence where officers found him hiding in the bed of a Ford F150 and they were able to place Harper into custody.

Law enforcement officers then searched the area and located five zip-lock bags of cocaine that Harper had hidden. Officers also searched Harper’s vehicle, where they found a loaded .40 caliber handgun. Harper later was released on a $100,000.00 bond.

On March 19, 2009, the Ridgeland Police Department obtained information that Harper was still selling cocaine and the informant agreed to contact him to attempt to set up a drug deal. The informant was equipped with a video and recording device and was given $100 in buy money to purchase the drugs from Harper.

Harper agreed to meet the informant in the parking lot of his apartment complex. When the informant arrived, Harper got into the driver’s side of the confidential informant’s car where the transaction occurred. Harper exited the vehicle and got into his car and was driving away as law enforcement officials moved in to arrest him. Harper exited the car and once again attempted to leave on foot. Harper was arrested minutes after he fled.

The five $20.00 bills, which were used by the confidential informant to purchase the cocaine, were found in Harper’s pocket. Harper’s vehicle was searched and additional drugs were found. A search warrant was issued to search Harper’s house where a duffle bag was found that contained multiple illegal drugs.

Guest stated, “Harper has been using and selling drugs most of his life and has previously been convicted in Lafayette County for drug possession. Harper is like most drug dealers who don’t care where they sell their drugs. Because of the hard work of the narcotics officers the people of Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties will all be safer knowing this career drug dealer is behind bars.”

Guest added, “Harper’s days of supplying drugs on our streets, in our neighborhoods and possibly in our schools are over. Harper is an example of an extreme drug dealer who will never stop selling drugs and must be warehoused to protect our community.”

Harper also pled guilty on an unrelated automobile theft that occurred on October 18, 2001. In that case, during a routine traffic check, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office was told by Harper that he did not have a driver’s license. The deputy then had Harper pull his car over to the side while he called dispatch with his license number. The deputy was informed that the license was suspended due to two DUI’s. Harper was then handcuffed and placed into the back of the law enforcement vehicle.

The officers then started talking with Harper’s passenger and asked permission to search the car. Permission was granted. After permission was granted the deputy placed the passenger in the back of the same law enforcement vehicle Harper occupied. Once the deputy turned around and started walking toward the other car to conduct the search he heard his car leaving the scene as they accelerated in gravel. The car was chased about a mile, where Harper was successfully stopped and arrested.