Three day operation leads to arrest

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

More than 1,000 pills of what is suspected of being ephedrine were confiscated in an operation that began with e-mails and text messages.

The arrest of Rayford Townsend, 36, of 440 Peron Ave., Philadelphia, took place at the north Winn-Dixie parking lot Thursday afternoon in chilly weather.

Picayune Police Department Detective Mike Odom said the department set up a buy of about 1,000 ephedrine pills from Townsend. That buy was set up over the course of three days using text messages and e-mail correspondence.

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A meeting was set up for Thursday where investigators and officers set up a perimeter around the area and waited for Townsend to arrive. After the purchase was made, officers moved in and took Townsend into custody and took possession of what they believe are about 1,000 ephedrine pills, Odom said. The department was in the process of having the pills tested Thursday afternoon, said Police Chief Jim Luke.

Possession of more than 250 ephedrine pills is a felony, Odom said. Until tests of the pills are available, Townsend will be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime. If the pills test positive for ephedrine, Townsend will face additional charges, Luke said.

Odom said ephedrine is a main ingredient used in manufacturing methamphetamine.

“You can make a lot of crystal meth with this,” Odom said.