A Fountain Hills pastor is accused of peddling drugs and Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies worry some of the victims may be children.
Sheriff's investigators said they aren't sure if 63-year-old Mark Derksen was using the church to sell drugs but claim the pastor admitted to doing this to bring people closer to God.
MCSO authorities said they got a tip about Derksen two years ago but didn't have enough to go on until Wednesday afternoon, after an undercover purchase led to a search warrant and a raid.
Deputies raided his apartment only a block from town hall and a sheriff substation, leaving neighbors stunned.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Derksen was a pastor for the Faith Mountain Christian Center Church, also in Fountain Hills. The church is for sale right now and not believed to be in operation.
"We have no information right now whether they actually went in the church or he used the apartment," Arpaio said.
Arpaio said Derksen was giving people free drugs to hook them and build a customer base. The sheriff said Derksen admitted he was hooked, too.
Derksen had any many as 30 customers a day, Arpaio said. They seized 15 grams of meth, 5 grams of heroin, prescription drugs, scales and weapons at his apartment.
Detectives said they also found numerous meth pipes along with several seals containing oxycontin pills.
Investigators are now trying to figure out where Derksen got the drugs and who he sold them to.
"We're going to see how many people were using drugs in this town to send a warning out that we're not going to put up with this," Arpaio said.
Derksen was also a youth pastor and visited nursing homes, MCSO said. As of Wednesday night, Derksen had not yet been booked and is in the hospital for an unknown reason.
Another woman inside the apartment was arrested for drugs and outstanding warrants.
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