Pike Co. men face drug charges here

Published 5:00 am Thursday, October 3, 2002

Two Pike County men were arrested early Wednesday morning forallegedly stealing a substance used in the production of crystalmethamphetamine, said authorities.

According to Chris Picou, a narcotics agent with the LincolnCounty Sheriff’s Department, Robert A. Criswell, 19, of 7313Highway 568, Magnolia, and Jack Jay Fortenberry Jr., 19, of 204High Street, McComb, were both arrested at 1:30 a.m., and chargedwith possession of anhydrous ammonia and theft of anhydrousammonia.

“We were doing surveillance on an anhydrous ammonia tank inLincoln County when the two subjects pulled up in a truck,” saidPicou. “They turned their lights off and carried an air tank overto the big tank.”

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Picou was flanked in the surveillance effort by MississippiBureau of Narcotics agents Chad Griffin and Conner Magee afterLincoln County farmers suffered a rash of thefts. Crystalmethamphetamine has become a popular drug in Mississippi.

Anhydrous ammonia is used by farmers as a fertilizer, but isoften stolen as a key solution in the mixture used to make thehighly addictive drug.

Highly flammable and volatile, the gas must be handled withextreme care. The nature of anhydrous ammonia caused the narcoticsagents to take extra precaution around the tank.

“It was drizzling on and off that night, so due to the weatherconditions, we had to be careful because if water and anhydrousammonia mix, it causes a violent reaction,” said Picou.

As the two subjects were allegedly starting the process ofdraining the gas from the large tank into one of their two smallertanks, authorities made the arrests, said Picou.

“When they were coming back with their second tank, myself andthe two MBN agents, along with Rico (Lincoln County drug dog) madethe apprehension,” he said, explaining that the dog is utilizedduring tank surveillance so subjects will not run fromofficers.

Picou said catching people stealing anhydrous ammonia is a toppriority for narcotics agents at this time because of the dangerthat surrounds the substance.

“These people are driving with anhydrous ammonia in theirvehicles putting others at risk,” he said. “Most of the timethey’re using homemade tanks, too, and that adds another dangerouselement.”

Anyone with information about the theft of anhydrous ammonia,can call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department at 833-5231 orCrime Stoppers at 823-0150.