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Local MBN agents honored again

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
May 11, 2004
The accolades continue to roll in for the Meridian District of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
Two local MBN agents, Allen Ward and Jimmie Nichols, were recently recognized for an Outstanding Case in the Southern District for 2003.
The award was the latest in a round of honors the local office has received stemming from the 2003 drug case of Michael Lee Hodges, a Lauderdale County man sentenced to life in prison for transporting large amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine.
The local office represents nine counties in East Central Mississippi and is one 12 offices in the state.
The Meridian District received awards for the state's Case of the Year in 2001 and 2002. Ward received MBN's Agent of the Year last year, while the Meridian District was named District of the Year.
The agency already has presented 91 cases to a grand jury since Jan. 1, including 10 in Lauderdale County.
While the East Mississippi Drug Task Force handles most street-level drug problems in Lauderdale County, MBN agents focus more on the upper-level distributors of illegal drugs.
The agency also works street-level cases in surrounding counties that do not have a task force assigned to drugs.
MBN agents were able to connect Hodges with a ring of drug traffickers from San Diego to Mississippi. They began working leads on the case in March 2002.
Hodges was later found guilty of all 10 counts against him five involving the transport and sale of illegal drugs and five involving money-laundering. In addition to the life sentence, Hodges was ordered to forfeit more than $1.6 million in cash and assets made through the sale of drugs in Mississippi between 1987 and his 2002 arrest.
Nichols said he and other agents were able to tie Hodges to the large drug ring after a routine undercover cocaine purchase in Lauderdale County.