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Officers with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department were busy last week, arresting a total of six people in two separate drug cases.
Last Thursday morning, officers from the Sheriff’s Office responded to the 300 block of NE 13th Street in Ava for a report of a possible methamphetamine lab.
At about 8:30 a.m., Lt. Atonya Mansi and Sgt. Vernon Johnson made contact with the homeowner and two other occupants in the home. Upon the door opening a strong chemical odor was recognized by both as that associated with cooking methamphetamine. The deputies requested that everyone exit the residence, and they complied.
Deputies then took three subjects into custody at that time.
Sheriff Chris Degase was contacted and after interviewing one of the subjects it was determined there was an active methamphetamine lab inside the residence.
Due to the close proximity of other residences and the imminent danger of toxic fumes, as well as the possibility of explosion, Sheriff Degase contacted Deputy Brad Loveless who is certified in dismantling meth labs.
Degase and Loveless donned respirator masks and Deputy Loveless put on a full body chemical suit and the two entered the residence.
After a quick search to ensure no one else was in the residence, a full active, smoking meth lab was discovered in the garage.
Upon entering the garage, both Sheriff Degase and Deputy Loveless were nearly overcome by the toxic fumes. All chemicals and potentially toxic or combustible materials were removed from the residence and Deputy Loveless dismantled the lab.
A search warrant was received and a search of the residence resulted in the seizure of numerous drug precursors and finished methamphetamine product.
As a result of the search, Mark S. Davis, 39, of Ava, was arrested and charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, a Class B felony; possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), a Class C felony; possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to manufacture, a Class D felony; and keeping or maintaining a public nuisance, a Class C felony.
The last charge is related to the homeowner, Davis, conducting illegal drug activity in the residence.
Degase said if the court finds the owner of the residence knew of the illegal activity, the court may order the place cannot be occupied or used by anyone for up to one year. Davis is being held on a $70,000 bond.
Also charged was Davis’ girlfriend, Ladonna M. Belt, 39, of Ava, and her son, Dylan Slade, 19, of Ava.
They were charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), and possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to manufacture.
Both Belt and Slade are being held on a $55,000 bond.
On Saturday, Feb. 26, Sheriff Degase, Deputy Loveless and Deputy Nathan Long conducted a drug investigation in the early morning hours in the Brushy Knob area of Douglas County after receiving information from a Wright County deputy.
As a result of that investigation, which is apparently not related to the previous case, Michael Strong, 35, of Cabool, James L. Fishback, 33, of Springfield, and Jill C. Farmer aka Jill C. Thornhill, 31 of Cabool, were arrested and charged with possession of controlled substance (methamphetamine).
All are being held on $30,000 bond.
The trio was found to be in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia including used syringes, spoons and a substance used to “cut” the meth.
Sheriff Degase attributes the success of this investigation to surrounding counties sharing information and the fact that his deputies returned to work with little sleep to assist with the case after working the night shift.