08/06/10 — Six face charges in meth raid

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Six face charges in meth raid

By Nelson Bland
Published in News on August 6, 2010 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- The discovery of two methamphetamine labs, one in Beautancus near Mount Olive and the other in close proximity to a high school in Beulaville, has led to the arrest of six people in Duplin County.

Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace said Thursday the labs were destroyed.

Wallace spoke at a news conference at the Sheriff's Office along with Beulaville Chief of Police Joey Carter and Beulaville police Capt. Roger Edwards, who are members of the Sheriff's Drug Task Force.

The task force is made up of police departments and other law enforcement agencies in Duplin County, as well as the Mount Olive Police Department.

Wallace said Carter and Edwards "played an integral part" in the methamphetamine investigations and arrests.

He said one meth lab was taken down on Aug. 3 on Turkey Branch Road near Beulaville, and the other one was destroyed on July 20 on the Jim Grady Road at Beautancus, about five miles southeast of Mount Olive.

He said the two meth labs were not connected.

The suspects were jailed at the Duplin County Jail in Kenansville under bonds ranging from $150,000 to $550,000.

Each suspect was booked on felony charges of possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of meth precursors with intent to distribute. Other additional charges vary and are as follow:

* Toni Sue Coltren, 47, 2609 Beautancus Road, Mount Olive, possession of up to a half-ounce of marijuana, maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance, manufacture of meth; $225,000 bond.

* Dennis Allen Anderson, 57, 4337 Highway U.S. 117 Alternate, Dudley, manufacture of meth; $150,000 bond.

* Jimmy Dean Williamson, 47, 2609 Beautancus Road, Mount Olive, manufacture of meth, maintaining a house for a controlled substance; $150,000 bond.

* Diana Edwards Hudson, 39, 337 Turkey Branch Road, Beulaville, maintaining a single-wide trailer for a controlled substance and manufacture of meth within 1,000 feet of East Duplin High School; $300,000 bond.

* Tracy Edwards, 35, 209 N. Lee St., Beulaville, felony conspiracy with Richard Elwood Shortis and Diana Edwards Shortis to possess meth; $150,000 bond.

* Richard Elwood Shortis, 40, 337 Turkey Branch Road, Beulaville, manufacture of meth within 1,000 feet of East Duplin High School; $150,000 bond.

* Kayla Lynn Taylor, 23, 145 Outback Lane, Pink Hill, manufacture of meth within 1,000 feet of East Duplin High School, possession/distribute meth precursor; $550,000 bond.

Carter said officers had received information from administration officials of East Duplin High School about some suspicious activity at a mobile home behind the school.

It was at that trailer, which Wallace said was exactly 675 feet from the school, that officers found a meth lab that had recently been used.

He said there is a state statute that increases the penalty for a meth lab within 1,000 feet of a school.

Concerning the meth lab at Beautancus, Wallace said his office had received information about "some folks shopping for components used for manufacturing meth and we began a surveillance of a young lady who was buying" the items.

The items seized at the meth labs included lye, lithium batteries, cold medications, drain openers and cat litter among other items that are meth precursors.

She was stopped at a traffic stop, Wallace said, and and information from that stop led officers to the Jim Grady Road lab.

Numerous items used in the making of meth, along with three grams of meth, were confiscated in the arrests.

Wallace said the number of meth labs in the county had been on the decline, but that now he is seeing an increase in meth activity.

He said tight enforcement that has kept meth out of the county has forced users to manufacture the drug to support their habits.

Wallace noted that in 2009, the Sheriff's office destroyed six meth labs, but so far this year, has already taken down eight.

He said there is an increase in meth labs across eastern North Carolina.

Carter said small-town police departments like his "have got to have some help from outside agencies," and that the recent meth arrests "are a result of what can happen with team-work effort" such as the Drug Task Force.