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Efforts net three drug charge arrests

An interjurisdictional sweep by the Southwest MississippiNarcotics Enforcement Unit and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcoticsturned over more than 40 marijuana plants in the north part of thecounty Tuesday, officials said.

SMNEU Commander Tim Vanderslice said Lester Powell, 57, of 2184Mission Hill Road, Wesson, was charged with manufacturing marijuanawhen law enforcement helicopters spotted pot plants on hisproperty.

“We were doing a marijuana eradication with MBN,” he said. “We flyover the different counties to look for marijuana plants and we hadintel on this person. They spotted it and we went in and found 42marijuana plants.”

Vanderslice said the plants altogether amounted to about 8 pounds,and that another 9 grams of marijuana was found inside theresidence.

Powell, a self-employed cabinet maker, was taken to the LincolnCounty Jail and is now out on bond.

The marijuana eradication operations involve coordination betweenlocal, area and state law enforcement, Vanderslice said.

“When the helicopter flies over and spots it, it will hover andwe’ll come in. We’re usually staged up somewhere waiting, and whenhe radios us we’ll go in,” he said.

Vanderslice confirmed that the visual on the drugs from the sky isenough probable cause to search the property without awarrant.

Both the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department and Brookhaven PoliceDepartment are active in SMNEU. Sheriff Steve Rushing saidmulti-agency raids and investigations are part of the territory,and they often turn up large drug busts.

“Interjurisdictional operations like this help us get the localdrugs off our streets,” said Rushing.

Meanwhile, SMNEU and the LCSD also arrested two men in thesoutheastern part of the county on methamphetamine charges.

Billy Baker, Jr., 45, of 1294 Mallalieu Dr., and Joseph Busby, 29,of 1953 Busby Trail, were both arrested on charges of possession ofmethamphetamine and conspiracy to possess methamphetamine onTuesday afternoon, Vanderslice said.

Both men were arrested at Baker’s residence, where officials had atip that there might be illegal drug activity taking place.

“We had intel on them for a while, and it was just a matter oftime, and of when and how to do it,” Vanderslice said, adding thatagents had simply asked the homeowner for consent to search and gotagreement.

When they entered, SMNEU and Lincoln County officials foundevidence that recent meth production had taken place.

“I know they had cooked the night before,” Vanderslice said. “Theyfound several bags of meth in the house and flashlights where theyhad taken the backs off to put the meth in there.”

Both Baker and Busby are still booked in the Lincoln CountyJail.