Meth cooks going cross state lines for pseudoephedrine

Published 3:41 pm Thursday, December 2, 2010

With a new law in effect, some people who may have illegal intentions for an everyday cold medicine have to drive farther to get what they need.

The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department recently worked two cases involving county residents driving across state lines to acquire cold medication containing pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Chief Investigator Donnie Saucier said the first incident occurred on Nov. 24, when the department’s Detective Joe Garcia received a tip that 29 year-old county resident Josh Sones of 657 Sones Chapel Rd., was in Bogalusa La., purchasing pseudoephedrine pills. Saucier said Garcia has had previous dealings with Sones that involved the suspect’s alleged sale and use of methamphetamine.

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A surveillance operation was set up along Mississippi Highway 26 in anticipation of Sones’ return to the county, and when Sones was spotted, an investigative stop was conducted. Saucier said that during the stop Garcia saw two boxes of pseudoephedrine in the vehicle, prompting an investigation that led him to a home at 66 Birch Blvd., Poplarville. Garcia found what appeared to be evidence of previous methamphetamine cooks near a shed at that address, Saucier said.

That evidence helped Garcia secure a search warrant and during the search of the Poplarville home a number of precursor items were found, including lithium batteries, camp fuel, ammonium nitrate and lye, Saucier said. The investigation showed that Sones was apparently on his way to the home on Birch Avenue with the cold medication and that the location was where Sones had conducted previous cooks on his own, Saucier said.

Sones was charged with conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance, Saucier said.

A separate incident on Nov. 30, also involved a tip, but this time from a Slidell, La., informant, which alleged that 49 year-old Rex Moak of 1400 Palestine Rd., was purchasing pseudoephedrine, Saucier said. Surveillance was set up in the south end of the county where investigators saw Moak and conducted an investigative stop. During the stop the investigators received verbal consent to search Moak’s vehicle where they found camp fuel and lye, Saucier said.

Moak also gave the investigators permission to search his home where they found ammonium nitrate, pseudoephedrine pills and liquid fire, which is a drain cleaner used in the production of methamphetamine, Saucier said. Moak was charged with possession of precursor chemicals, Saucier said.

Going across state lines to secure cold medication with pseudoephedrine has become common since the passage of a Mississippi law requiring a prescription to obtain the medication, Saucier said. Since the suspects have changed the way they get the medication, the investigators have had to change their enforcement policies, including implementing relationships with Louisiana pharmacies and law enforcement.

“Anyone that enters the state of Mississippi with a pseudoephedrine product without a prescription is in violation of the law for possession of a schedule III product,” Saucier said.