Helicopter purchased for MBN with seized money

By Sandi Pullen

Daily Journal

Before last week, the newest helicopter in use by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics was one that had been shot down three times in Vietnam.

Now, thanks to federally seized drug money, the Bureau has a new ride.

"We got it delivered this week," said Bobby Grimes, northern region director of public relations for the MBN. "It's a new corporate helicopter. We're updating the helicopters we had before."

The new helicopter, an EC 120 Eurocopter, has extended operational capacity, allowing it to stay in the air for four to six hours at a time, depending on its load.

"In the old one, we could only carry two passengers," Grimes said. "Now we can carry multiple passengers."

The helicopter will be used for drug investigations, manhunts and drug eradication programs, he said.

"It will be used in the transport of officers around the state in support of all our operations," Grimes said.

The helicopter will not only be used for drug eradication, he said; in February the MBN helicopter fleet was sent to Pontotoc County to help with disaster control after a hurricane.

The best part, he said, is how the helicopter was purchased.

"It was bought by the Bureau through federally seized funds and will be paid for by these funds," Grimes said. "It didn't cost the taxpayer anything."

The helicopter cost approximately $1.5 million.

"The Bureau has four helicopter pilots and a couple of fixed-wing pilots," Grimes said. "These pilots receive training on several different types of helicopters. They just went through a battery of training in Dallas for this specific aircraft."

The helicopter is equipped with all the latest aviatics and infrared technology, Grimes said, and will be used statewide in all types of weather.

"This is going to be a great enhancement to our abilities," he said.

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