TUPELO – What began as a Lee County investigation last month into the years-long theft and sale of large quantities of beer quickly came to include Chickasaw County, law enforcement officers said this week.

Seven people, including one Okolona man and several employees at Mitchell Distributing Company in Tupelo, are accused of stealing the beer.

Authorities said investigation began after employees noticed 90 cases of beer were taken from a warehouse on two nights in June. Surveillance footage indicated two other employees were involved; the investigation grew from there.

The case expanded to Okolona after investigators learned large quantities of the stolen beer were being sold illegally there.

The theft of beer, light wine and energy drinks from the Tupelo beer distributorship has been going on for years. The loss may top $180,000, investigators said. They believe men hired to load beer trucks at night would load cases of beer into personal vehicles, then transport them other places for sale.

Employees were stealing the items and selling them to at least two Chickasaw men in Okolona, which is wet for beer, wine and liquor, according to Chickasaw Sheriff Jimmy Meyers.

The case is being worked by the Chickasaw and Lee County Sheriff’s Departments, Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control, and Okolona Police Department, which helped with running the search warrants.

Investigation led to the following developments in the case:

--On June 28, authorities executed a search warrant at the residence of Jason Lakale Foulks, 45, of 124 Triplett St., Okolona. Meyers said authorities confiscated several cases of stolen beer, about a pound of marijuana, about 7 grams of powder cocaine and about $1,380 in cash.

Foulks is now charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, and possession of beer with intent to sell without a permit, according to Chickasaw County Jail records. He is out on $20,000 bond, records indicated this week.

“He is charged with intent because he had the marijuana divided and packaged to sell. The cocaine was divided into gram packages,” Sheriff Meyers said.

--On June 21, authorities searched the Happy Mart at 401East Monroe Street in Okolona.

As a result, Mohamed Mohson, 23 of Okolona was charged with the misdemeanor of possession/sale of beer not obtained from a wholesaler. Conviction could also bring the loss of his state beer sales license, the sheriff said.

According to published reports, others in custody in connection with the case include Travares Brown, 38, of Tupelo; Quintel Montgomery, 23, of Tupelo; Isaac Morgan, 50, of Columbus; Devonta Orr, 27, of Verona; Darius J. Pack, 26, of Okolona; Benji D. Williams, 37, of Baldwyn; and Jasper Williams, 27, of Shannon.

The case remains under investigation; more arrests are possible, investigators said this week.

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