Thursday, February 8, 2007
Bust at Barton nets two arrests
By SUE WATSON
Two store operators were arrested last week by Marshall County deputies, culminating a lengthy undercover investigation into the illegal sale of precursors used in the illicit manufacture of crystal methamphetamine, according to Sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
He said Sameer Merchant, 45, of 144 Legacy Bond Trail in the Collierville, Tenn., area, and Mengistie G. Fentie, 30, of 970 Dusty Cove in Cordova, Tenn., were arrested Wednesday, Jan. 31, around noon at Country Grocery and Deli on Highway 309 in Barton.
Merchant is charged with two counts of sale of ephedrine with intent to manufacture crystal methamphetamine in violation of Mississippi Code Section 41-29-315, Dickerson said. He remains in jail on a $50,000 secure bond.
“We have a federal hold order for Merchant from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency,” Dickerson said. “He is here illegally in violation of the federal immigration laws. What it means is Merchant will be in custody of federal authorities in the event he makes bond and will be turned over to them and held for trial on these charges in either federal or state court.”
Merchant was born in India, Dickerson said.
Fentie is also charged with sale of ephedrine with intent to manufacture crystal methamphetamine. Fentie made a $25,000 cash bond and was released and awaits future action in either state or federal court, Dickerson said. Fentie gave his country of origin as Ethiopia.
The arrests to the two men and raid of the store followed an undercover operation by local law enforcement and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, according to Dickerson.
Medicines containing ephedrine are legal for sale and use, but normally when they are bought in large quantities by an individual it may be suspected these medicines are being purchased for the manufacture of crystal meth, he said.
“We have been targeting these type of violations where precursors are being sold,” said Dickerson. “State law requires store operators to keep a log book containing the identity of anyone who buys a dosage unit of the precursor - ephedrine - or other substance known to be used in the manufacture of crystal methamphetamine.”
Dickerson said the convenience store operators did not keep a log book on their sales as required by state law.
The penalty if convicted carries a five- to 10-year possible sentence per count, Dickerson said.
“Anyone with knowledge of anyone involved with the illegal sale of precursors or any other illegal drug is encouraged to report the information to me or to members of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics,” Dickerson said. “We will make every effort to investigate and to make arrests if warranted.”
Dickerson reported arrests in two other unrelated incidents over the last week.
On February 1, sheriff’s deputies answered a call from a female inside a residence in the Cayce Road area that a man had entered her home with intent to commit assault.
“Our officers immediately responded and the suspect was inside the residence when they arrived but fled into a densely wooded area and was able to elude capture at the time,” Dickerson said. “However, an arrest warrant for the suspect for burglary of an inhabited dwelling was immediately issued. We continued to vigorously pursue the suspect and attempted to locate him until February 5 when the suspect turned himself in to the sheriff’s department.”
The suspect, Ladarius A. Wright, 20, of 25 Williams Road in the Cayce area, was charged with attempted burglary of a dwelling, arraigned and released on bond, Dickerson said.
In a separate incident Sunday, Feb. 5, officers responded to a call in the Cayce Road area where a victim had been shot following an exchange of words in a store parking lot, Dickerson said.
Montrell Ellis, 22, of Cedar Oak Circle in the Byhalia area, was identified as the suspect and charged with aggravated assault in the shooting.
Dickerson said Ellis fired numerous shots with a large-caliber handgun at the victim who attempted to flee in his vehicle. The truck was struck several times and the victim sustained a gunshot wound to the arm, he said.
Ellis fled on foot and is still being sought in an arrest warrant charging aggravated assault, the sheriff said.
Anyone knowing Ellis’ whereabouts is asked to call the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department at 662-252-1311.
(662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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