Meth lab bust results in trafficking charges - thesalemnewsonline.com: Local News

Meth lab bust results in trafficking charges

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Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 11:07 am | Updated: 10:59 am, Tue Mar 27, 2012.

Four Dent County residents were arrested Friday night and charged with felony crimes after officers from the South Central Missouri Drug Task Force and the Dent County Sheriff’s Office located an active methamphetamine lab in the basement of a home in Lake Spring, according to court records and a report from Sheriff Rick Stallings.

Two children, ages 2 and nine months, were found in the home. They are the children of Harley D. Clark, 21, who was arrested and charged, according to the report. The home belonged to Billy Earl Woolman, 54, Lake Spring. More than 100 grams of liquid methamphetamine were seized.

Arrested and charged with trafficking in drugs, a Class A first degree felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a Class C felony were Woolman, 54; Clark, 21; Charles Gregory Ritz, 21; and David Joseph, 28, all of Lake Spring.

Woolman is being held in the Dent County Jail on a $100,000 bond. Clark is being held in the Dent County Jail on a $75,000 bond. Ritz and Joseph are being held in the Phelps County Jail on outstanding warrants there.

Dent County Prosecuting Attorney Sid Pearson said the trafficking charges deal with manufacturing methamphetamine. According to Pearson, manufacturing methamphetamine charges could have been filed, but since the trafficking charges deal with large amounts of drugs, he chose trafficking, which includes stiffer penalties.

If found guilty of trafficking, it could mean a term in prison of not less than five years nor more than 30 years in the Department of Corrections, or by life imprisonment to be served without probation or parole.

A female identified as Harley D. Clark was located in the southwest bedroom along with her juvenile daughter, 2.  Clark's son, nine months, was located in the northwest bedroom, according to Stallings’ report. Woolman was found in the southeast bedroom. All were taken outside the residence. The children were taken from the property by DFS and transported to the Dent County Sheriff's Office. At the request of the mother and approval by the Department of Family Services, the children were released to the custody of a family member from the Rolla area, Stallings said.

Two men identified as Charles G. Ritz and David J. George were found in the basement of the residence.

There was an active “one pot” methamphetamine cook in the basement along with several other chemicals used in the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine. There was an extremely strong odor of chemicals emitting from the basement, according to a probable cause statement. There were also trash bags just outside of the basement door, which contained several old “one pot” methamphetamine cook bottles and other items used to cook methamphetamine. In a shed next to the residence were several jars containing liquid that field-tested positive for methamphetamine and other items such as filters, tubing and sulfuric acid, among others.

Woolman told officers he provided George with pseudoephedrine tablets, which were used to manufacture methamphetamine, and he also received cooked methamphetamine. Woolman said George received pseudoephedrine tablets from several people in order to cook methamphetamine, according to the statement.

This is not Woolman's first drug-related arrest, according to court records. Court records indicate that Woolman was arrested in July 2003 for creation of methamphetamine and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia; July 2004 for manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and possession of chemicals to manufacture methamphetamine; October 2004 for possession of methamphetamine; and December 2006 for manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of chemicals to create methamphetamine and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia.

He has also had two misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana filed against him in August 2003 and February 2005.

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