Arizona pastor allegedly a drug pusher

Nov. 29, 2012 at 11:48 AM
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FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz., Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A 63-year-old Arizona preacher allegedly sold drugs to "bring people closer to God," authorities say.

KNXV-TV, Phoenix, said Maricopa County sheriff's deputies arrested the Rev. Mark Derksen Sr. of Fountain Hills, who had led the Faith Mountain Christian Center Church, following a two-year investigation.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday the arrest came after authorities learned Derksen had allegedly sold drugs to numerous people at his home a block from town hall and a sheriff's substation. Investigators allegedly found heroin, prescription drugs, a shotgun and a pistol during a search of the residence, the TV station said. Deputies also seized computers and cellphones.

A woman at the home also arrested for drug possession, the TV station said.

Derksen was hospitalized for unknown reasons, the TV station said.

Arpaio told reporters Derksen, who also was a youth counselor and ministered at nursing homes, believed he would "bring people closer to God," by helping them get off drugs, but actually was fueling their addictions. The sheriff said Derksen was using drugs himself and gave out free drugs to others to develop them into customers.

KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported authorities said some of the pastor's customers may have been children.

It wasn't clear whether Derksen sold drugs at the church, which is for sale and not believed to be in operation, the TV station.

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