Traffic stop fuels meth fears

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Two people were arrested Tuesday on charges of possession of methamphetamine after a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 40 near Mount Harris.

State patrol troopers initially were worried the vehicle was part of a mobile methamphetamine lab, but with the help of hazardous-materials crews, they eventually determined there were no active chemicals in the pickup.

Barbara Jo Moss, 48, of Montrose and Randy Douglas Cushman, 37, of Craig were arrested on suspicion of possession of meth, possession with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brett Hilling said. Moss, who was driving, also was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, no proof of insurance, driving under suspension and failing to drive in a designated lane.

At about 2:10 p.m., Hilling pulled over the blue Ford Ranger truck after he noticed it weaving and following too closely. Moss, who showed visible signs of intoxication, failed roadside sobriety tests and was arrested, Hilling said. Cushman, the passenger, also was removed from the vehicle so that a search could be conducted.

In the vehicle, Hilling found two small bags of methamphetamine weighing less than 1 ounce and a methamphetamine pipe. Hilling then discovered a grocery bag full of Sudafed pills, a common ingredient in meth production. Hilling said his suspicion was raised further with the discovery of an empty suitcase containing a white residue and a closed black duffel bag, often referred to as the "death bag" in meth production.

The West Routt Fire Protection District quickly secured the scene while the Craig Haz-Mat team was called to examine the vehicle. It was determined that no active chemicals were present in the vehicle, Hilling said.

Representatives from Hayden Police Department, Routt County Sheriff's Office and GRAMNET also were on scene.

The detailed procedure for handling suspected meth labs is essential for the safety of officers and others, Hilling said.

"It's critical we do this properly or we're going to have people hurt or killed," Hilling said. "There have been officers over the years who have found a bag or bottles of chemicals, opened them and died."

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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