URBANA – A Fithian man faces charges of illegal hauling of a farm chemical that's also used for making methamphetamine.
Todd Mitchell, 44, was charged by Champaign County prosecutors Thursday with a Class 4 felony of illegal transportation of anhydrous ammonia. Mitchell is due to return to court Aug. 14 with a private attorney after he was denied the appointment of a public defender. His bond was set at $10,000 and recognizance also was denied.
Champaign County sheriff's Lt. Charles Deakin said Mitchell was arrested about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Penfield area. Deputies had been watching rural agricultural chemical dealers due to a series of suspected anhydrous ammonia thefts.
Anhydrous ammonia is used by farmers to fertilize fields, but is also one of the key products used in the illegal production of methamphetamine, according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office. Transporting anhydrous ammonia in a portable container not authorized under the Hazardous Materials Act is a Class 4 felony, which carries a possible prison sentence of one to three years and a possible fine up to $25,000, Madigan's office said.
Propane tanks are frequently used to siphon anhydrous ammonia from proper storage tanks, according to the attorney general's office.
Sheriff Dan Walsh said Friday the arrest was made by deputies assigned to a new street crimes team. Patrol deputies and investigators will continue investigating reports of any theft or illegal use of anhydrous ammonia, he said.