Community complaint leads to bust

Published 2:30 am Sunday, September 12, 2010

Community complaints brought about an extensive surveillance operation that eventually led to the capture of  five suspects who were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Investigator Capt. Donnie Saucier said the complaints concerned alleged methamphetamine production at the home of 35 year-old Greg Smith, 124 Bill Terrell Rd., Carriere. Also arrested as a result of the operation was Smith’s wife, 35 year-old Theresa Smith, 34 year-old Josh C. Taylor of 40 Buddy Rd., 47 year-old Kevin D. Copling of 11 Copling Lane and 28 year-old Jonathan Stockstill of 18207 Highway 603, Kiln.

The Sheriff’s Department set up surveillance at that location early Thursday morning. Saucier said the layout of the property made the operation difficult, but by using foot surveillance and specialized equipment, investigators were able to gather information in spite of high fences and woods surrounding the property.

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Officers saw lots of activity taking place at the home late at night. Saucier said he believes the suspects conducted their alleged illegal activity at night to avoid law enforcement detection.

After several hours of surveillance, the investigators were able to secure enough evidence to get a search warrant for the home, surrounding property and outlying buildings.

The warrant was served at about 4:45 the same morning and as the officers moved in, several of the suspects fled but were quickly apprehended, Saucier said. While the property also contained several aggressive dogs, the owner tended to them to ensure officer safety, Saucier said.

Investigators found two active methamphetamine labs in one of the outlying buildings. In the back yard of the home, investigators also found a large water jug containing evidence of old methamphetamine cooks along with several precursor chemicals.

The search also uncovered some old coffee filters with methamphetamine cook residue and pseudoephedrine pills in a dresser drawer containing women’s clothes and a purse also containing the pills, allegedly belonging to Theresa Smith.

Evidence alleging to the purchase of pseudoephedrine pills from Louisiana was found at the home in the form of receipts dated the day of and the day prior to the bust, Saucier said. Those receipts showed the suspects had allegedly been driving to Louisiana to purchase the cold medication, which is now sold in Mississippi only with a prescription. Saucier said the case is still under investigation and investigators believe that Greg Smith, Taylor, Copling and Stockstill had been driving across state lines to secure the cold medication.

Saucier said the department is working with Louisiana law enforcement agencies to determine if there are additional suspects in what is suspected to be an organized methamphetamine cook operation, of which Greg Smith is believed to be the leader.