Thieves target fertilizer for meth-making

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

HICKMAN, Ky. - At Speed Ag. there are 60 anhydrous ammonia tanks.

Owner Shaw Speed says it is one of the most popular fertilizers among farmers because of the amount of time the nitrogen lasts in the soil. But it is not just farmers but thieves who keep returning to his business. Anhydrous ammonia, a key ingredient in meth, is what they are after.

He says the problem began a few years ago, "We were getting calls in the middle of the night of tanks leaking."

It was Fulton County's Sheriff, Bobby Hopper, on the other end.

"Just as soon as we'd make an arrest and haul someone to jail, we'd leave someone hiding and there would be someone else coming in.  It used to be that bad," Hopper remembered of the thefts at Speed Ag.

"It's kind of died down. Now, it's coming back pretty strong," he said, adding he believes it is because those that had been arrested were now out of jail.

In fact, in the past week, his office has responded to two incidents at Speed Ag. But Shaw Speed is determined things won't be as easy this time. He says there is now surveillance and changes to the tanks that make it more difficult to access the chemical.

In addition, the Sheriff has pledged to step up patrols at Speed Ag. and other places where these thefts are known to have occurred.

"Watch out because Bobby Hopper will get ya," Speed promised.

Hopper asks anyone who sees anything suspicious, particularly late at night in farm fields, to call law enforcement.

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