Demolition begins on tobacco warehouse

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com A construction crew uses a backhoe to tear down the old tobacco warehouse on the corner of Franklin and Front streets on Wednesday.

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com
A construction crew uses a backhoe to tear down the old tobacco warehouse on the corner of Franklin and Front streets on Wednesday.

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Demolition of a downtown warehouse seized during FBI raids in 2009 began this week.

The warehouse sits on the lot planned to house the future Tupelo Police Department headquarters.

Tupelo Chief Operations Officer Don Lewis said Edge Construction began removing asbestos from the building in December and began demolition of the building earlier this week.

“We’re looking at roughly 90 days for them to have the land cleared,” he said.

As demolition proceeds, Tupelo Deputy Police Chief Alan Gilbert said they are meeting with architects and waiting to get City Council approval for the building.

The warehouse at Franklin and Front streets once housed Milam Manufacturing and was later used in a contraband cigarette operation before being seized during a six-year investigation into the operation that involved the FBI, Tupelo Police Department, area U.S. attorney’s and the U.S. Marshal’s offices.

The city also received $1.5 million from money seized by the tobacco task force during the investigation. The cash will be used to help build a new police headquarters along with money already set aside by the city.

Currently, the Tupelo Police Department is located in multiple offices scattered around the downtown area.

jb.clark@journalinc.com