Meth lab busted by task force

Thursday, February 19, 2009

By Lisa Schlichtman

Agents with the Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force and the Barry County Sheriff's Department busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab in the Verona area on Feb. 11.

Acting on information received by Task Force agents, law enforcement officials contacted the suspected drug manufacturer at her home. Following a consent search of the residence, agents discovered chemicals, precursors and apparatus used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Some of the seized items, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, included crushed up pseudoephedrine pills, two bottles of lye crystals, dry ice, tubing and glassware.

Ronatta Russell, 41, of Pierce City, was immediately arrested and taken into custody. On Friday, Feb. 13, Russell was officially arraigned on charges of possession of chemicals with intent to manufacture a controlled substance and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia.

Russell pleaded not guilty to the charges and is now being held in Barry County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bond.

At the time of her arrest, Russell told officers she was going to manufacture enough meth to make enough money to move to Kansas City. This statement by Russell was included in the probable cause affidavit.

Another drug arrest

Officers with the Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force made another drug arrest on Feb. 11 following a vehicle stop on Highway 60 in Monett.

The Task Force had received information that a late model Chevrolet pickup would be transporting a large amount of methamphetamine into the city limits of Monett. The suspect vehicle was intercepted at 728 West Highway 60.

The Barry County K9 officer was called to the scene and the K9 "alerted" on the vehicle. Over one ounce of methamphetamine was found concealed in the vehicle, and the driver was arrested for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

According to Task Force officials, the street value of the seized methamphetamine is about $3,600. The name of the suspect has not been released pending further investigation.

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