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Arrest leads to meth 'kingpin'
Nov 22, 2005 12:00 am
November 17, 2005
A shoplifting arrest led to the identification of an alleged Mississippi methamphetamine "kingpin" who apparently maintained a storage facility in Lebanon.
Authorities obtained a warrant and began a search of the storage unit late Wednesday, Public Safety Commissioner Billy Weeks said, who indicated officers were uncertain what they may find.
"We just now obtained a warrant and are getting ready to begin a search," Weeks said when contacted about the case.
He said a shoplifting arrest at a local store led to the arrest of a Lebanon woman and one of her roommates on charges of possessing the highly addictive drug, which is manufactured from a number of easily obtainable ingredients. One key component in making the drug is common cold medications, some of which must now be kept behind the counters in pharmacies because of a new state law.
The alleged shoplifter, Tori Lynn Phipps of Cedarwood Apartments, had "two glass pipes and some three bags of methamphetamine" in one hand when she was arrested after fleeing the store, Weeks said.
As a result, officers began observing her apartment and saw "some individuals leave at a high rate of speed" in the midst of the severe thunderstorm which rumbled through the area Tuesday night.
Police pursued the vehicle with officers seeing the driver "throwing bags of meth out the window" as the soggy chase was underway.
"Of course all that evidence was just washing away at once, it was raining so hard," Weeks said.
But once officers finally stopped the vehicle they found a small amount of the drug inside the car and arrested the driver, identified as Jack Pruitt Jr.
An interview by Lebanon police detectives and an agent with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency led to the identification of the Mississippi man, whose name was not publicly released Wednesday.
"We have reason to believe he's not in the area any longer, but apparently he was still maintaining a storage unit here," Weeks said.
He said the man has been described as a "kingpin" and "large scale meth cooker."
Weeks explained Mississippi authorities contacted about the suspect "immediately said he was wanted and they were willing to extradite him if we could locate him."
In addition, he said a "large amount of paraphernalia" was found inside the apartment where Phipps and Pruitt were residing, though he said officers do not believe the drug – which can be highly combustible, occasionally causing fires or even explosions – was not being manufactured inside the apartment.
"It appears it was just being sold out of the apartment," Weeks said. "We feel fairly certain it was being manufactured elsewhere."
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.