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Three arrested in Sterling-Dixon drug bust

Police also may have solved television theft from Walmart

Published: Friday, March 16, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012 11:02 a.m. CDT
(From left) Carlos Gutierrez, Earl A. Jones and Jason Witmer.

A joint Dixon, Rock Falls and Sterling police “buy-bust” operation nabbed three men who police say sold cocaine to their informants, and one of whom also is accused of being the Walmart TV thief.

During a buy-bust, officers monitor the sales and arrest the suspected dealer shortly after.

This operation started Tuesday in Dixon with the arrests of Earl A. Jones, 28, of Chicago, and Carlos Gutierrez, 43, of Sterling.

An informant arranged to meet Jones and Gutierrez in Dixon, where the two sold the informant less than a gram of cocaine worth $200 near Page Park, police said. The pair were arrested during a traffic stop shortly after.

During that investigation, police were led to Jason Witmer, a probationer who they say sold about $190 worth of cocaine to an informant in the 2200 block of Locust Street on Wednesday, near the Christian Life Retirement Center, police said.

Jones and Gutierrez are charged with delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park, delivery of cocaine, and two counts of criminal drug conspiracy.

Jones also is charged with possession of cocaine.

Both were in the Lee County Jail Thursday on a $100,000 bond. They will appear in court Wednesday.

Witmer is charged with delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet a retirement facility. Bond was set Thursday at $250,000; he will appear in court next Thursday for a preliminary hearing.

Witmer also is charged with burglary in connection with the thefts of a 40-inch and a 46-inch flat-screen TV taken from the Sterling Walmart on Feb. 23.

Sterling Police Detective Sgt. Steve Hubbard said a Crime Stoppers tip led them to Witmer.

A second man originally thought to have helped Witmer load the TVs into a car won’t be charged because police can’t prove he knew Witmer stole them, Hubbard said.

Witmer was sentenced in January to 4 years’ probation for burglary, and 21/2 years for retail theft, sentences to run concurrently.

In 2000, Gutierrez was sentenced to 21/2 years’ probation for aggravated battery and misdemeanor domestic battery. A year later, he was re-sentenced to 21/2 years for violating his probation.

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