Accused Ringleader in Court

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The accused leader of an alleged drugs-for-stolen property ring in Mississippi and Alabama was in court in Livingston Wednesday.

York resident Rodney Coats was arrested two days ago on charges that relate to drugs and stolen property in both Sumter and Lauderdale counties. He was charged after undercover investigators made a controlled purchase of narcotics.

Coats was out on supervised probation at the time after serving time in federal prison for drug charges.

"Today we are doing interviews and getting bonds set on the people we arrested from the search warrant we conducted in York, Ala., on Monday," said Clint Sumlin, commander of the 17th Judicial Drug Task Force.

Sumlin says law enforcement arrested five people who were a part of Coats' operation. Investigators say Coats, accompanied by a teenage girl, was carrying a backpack full of drugs when he fled from officers. They say he then forced his way into an elderly woman's home where she chased him away with a knife.

"He fled on foot with a sixteen year old female that was missing from Mississippi," said Sumlin. "There was a short chase. The officers were able to track him and make the arrest."

Lauderdale County's drug task force K-9s quickly apprehended Coats.

"Rodney Coats, he was the ring leader It's like they had a drug ring going on," Sumlin said. "A lot of stolen merchandise. We caught him with methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, prescription pills."

The searches uncovered a large amount of stolen property primarily from Mississippi and part of the stolen property was from the volunteer fire departments.

Officials say they recovered around $20,000 worth of property, around $9,000 worth of drugs and narcotics and $5,000 worth of guns.

Coats bond was set at $700,000.