HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Narcotics agents in Hancock County just uncovered what they’re calling “an extensive marijuana growing operation” on Rotten Bayou Road. They also believe this same operation may be the source of vaping products that have been turning up in the hands of local high school students.
Deputies first went to the home in the 17000 block of Rotten Bayou Road to serve Matthew John Ford, 35, with an arrest warrant for misdemeanor domestic violence. When they got there, they noticed a strong odor of raw marijuana and notified narcotics agents, who got a search warrant for the property.
Ford was arrested late Thursday night after agents executed that search, uncovering the grow operation, live marijuana plants, several ounces of processed marijuana, more than 200 THC vape cartridges, multiple quantities of blotter and liquid LSD, and items of processing, consumption, and distribution.
Narcotics agents were already investigating tips about fruit-flavored THC vaping devices and other marijuana products being supplied to students at Hancock High School. They say the amount of full packaged vape cartridges, each over 90% pure THC, is consistent with a large volume of distribution. And the particular characteristics of these vape devices are consistent with information about the type of products finding their way into the hands of students.
“I am very happy we were able to take this large amount of drugs out of circulation in Hancock County. If it was the source of what’s been winding up in the hands of our high school kids, then that makes it one of our most important drug cases in quite some time,” Sheriff Ricky Adam said. “We will continue to use every available resource to combat drugs in this county, and especially where children and young adults are placed at risk.”
“We are unaware of any incidents on our school campuses that may be connected in any way to the person or incident mentioned in the article," School Superintendent Alan Dedeaux told WLOX News in a statement. "Any form of drugs or tobacco, including vapes, are not permitted on our campuses. This continues to be an on-going investigation with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. As always, the safety of our students is of utmost importance to us and we will continue to work diligently to keep our students safe.”
All parents are encouraged to be on the lookout for vaping devices, and not to assume they are okay. Many of these products, which are nearly pure THC, have smells like fruit or candy and do not have any odor typical of marijuana being smoked. Officials say the potency of this THC concentrate makes it exceptionally dangerous, especially to an inexperienced marijuana user.
As for Matthew Ford, he was booked into the Hancock County Jail on felony charges of:
- Trafficking Controlled Substance, THC Concentrate
- Possession With Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance, Marijuana
- Possession With Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance, LSD
Bond is expected to be set Friday afternoon. Investigators say Ford also has multiple prior felony charges for controlled substance crimes. The investigation continues and further charges and arrests are possible.