JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A task force of federal, state and local authorities have dismantled Mississippi's largest methamphetamine distribution enterprise operating in the state. Eighteen people face federal charges, and 26 more were arrested on state charges. Many were found hiding out in Rankin county.
It was called "Operation Rankin ICE." Following a year-and-a-half long undercover investigation, authorities took down the criminal enterprise early Tuesday morning. It was described as a highly structured criminal organization that has a history of violence during drug trafficking activities.
$1.5 million worth of high-grade Mexican meth was seized right here in the metro area. A news conference was held in the U.S. Attorney's office Tuesday afternoon. Authorities say the suspects with names like "Batman," "Gunslinger" and "Dream" were all taken into custody during surprise raids. They are charged with distributing high-grade methamphetamine. Lawmen say members distributed up to 50 pounds of meth per month -- all of it allegedly cooked and exported by a Mexican drug cartel.
Lawmen including Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics director Marshall Fisher refused to get specific.
"Not at this time, at the risk of compromising further investigations and possibly agents' lives being at risk," he said.
"In my 15 years of prosecution, this is by far the biggest narcotics case I have been associated with," said Rakin County District Attorney Michael Guest. "We have dealt a major blow to individuals trafficking drugs in this area."
More than 80 weapons were also seized, including 3 silencers.
Operation Rankin ICE is far from over. Other arrests are expected.
The ring leader of the group was Christopher M. Stewart, a.k.a. "Batman," 26, from Walthall County.