Friday, December 27, 2002
A Wal-Mart security guard suspicious of several large Sudafed purchases took immediate action that led to the arrest of four suspected drug manufacturers from Washington State.
The suspects were arraigned this week for their apparent intent to manufacture methamphetamine from a “mobile lab.” Appearing in Hood River Circuit Court was: Mark Allen Qualls, 43, of Goldendale; James Elmer Wilcox, 55, of Sunnyside; Larry Dean McIntosh, 53, of Goldendale; and his daughter, Jodi Lee Abrams, 28, of Sunnyside.
District Attorney John Sewell said all four individuals have a criminal background that includes other drug-related convictions. He said Qualls has a pending case in Hood River Municipal Court for shoplifting a lithium battery from Wal-Mart on Dec. 6. In addition, he said Qualls also has similar drug charges pending in Wasco County and Wilcox was on a conditional release from jail at the time of his recent arrest for other drug manufacturing charges in his home town.
“The security official at Wal-Mart was alert enough to recognize that these people were probably involved in criminal activity, and because he took the time to call the police and follow up on that suspicion some habitual meth traffickers are now in custody,” Sewell said.
He said the incident began during the afternoon of Dec. 16 when security personnel at the discount store noticed that three individuals had each picked up three boxes of Sudafed, commonly used in the manufacturing of meth. They decided to report the unusual behavior after the trio split up to make their purchases at different cash registers.
City police arrived at the scene a few minutes later to find the suspects’ car still sitting in the parking lot since Abrams, the driver, had gone back inside to make another Sudafed purchase. Officers then discovered that Qualls, who had been banned from the property forever, was sitting in the passenger seat. During questioning about his criminal trespass, Sewell said police were granted the right by Abrams to search the car and uncovered a variety of drug paraphernalia, including meth hidden inside a diaper bag and scales, solvent, and a butane torch in a box and backpack.
“This case is very indicative of what is going on with meth labs right now,” said Sewell.
He said the new trend of dealers/users is to avoid the larger stationary labs in preference of smaller operations that can be operated on the move.
“Mobile labs making an ounce of meth at a time are contributing to the drug problem and it’s gratifying to take a couple of these dealers off the street,” Sewell said.
Abrams was jailed on a $2,500 cash bail but the cost for McIntosh, Wilcox and Qualls to get released from custody was set at $10,000 each. However, Sewell said Qualls and Wilcox could be prevented from leaving jail if Washington State files a hold because of violations in their other cases.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge