Bismarck police say two men had a mobile methamphetamine laboratory in a vehicle when they were pulled over on Saturday night.
Aron Clay Perez, 26, was charged Monday in district court with manufacturing methamphetamine and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, both Class A felonies, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge and will not be asked to enter pleas to the felonies until a later court date.
Perez also was charged in Bismarck Municipal Court with driving under the influence and driving under suspension. He pleaded guilty to both charges, and Municipal Judge William Severin sentenced him to three days in jail on each charge, along with a $250 fine in the DUI case. Perez also pleaded guilty to having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, and Severin ordered him to pay a $50 fine.
Casey Charles Courson, 31, was charged with Monday in district court with manufacturing methamphetamine and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, both Class A felonies, and false information to law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor.
South Central District Judge Gail Hagerty set bond for Perez at $30,000 cash, at the recommendation of Burleigh County Assistant State’s Attorney Lloyd Suhr. Suhr said Perez is on probation in Florida for manufacturing methamphetamine, so the manufacturing methamphetamine charge filed Monday likely will be amended to a second offense, which carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence.
Hagerty set bond for Courson at $20,000 cash. The bond also covers another case in which Courson was arrested on warrants. In that case, Courson was charged in September with driving under the influence and driving under suspension, and he did not show up at a court hearing. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday.
Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena said an officer stopped a vehicle driven by Perez, of Crawfordville, Fla., on the 200 block of South Fifth Street at 11:58 p.m. Saturday. The officer suspected Perez was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and arrested him for DUI, Buschena said.
He said the passenger, Courson, was arrested for using a false name. Courson has a Williston address but is originally from Georgia, Suhr said in court.
In a search following their arrests, Buschena said officers and members of the Metro Area Narcotics Task Force found numerous materials used in the making of methamphetamine, including cold medicine, coffee filters, drain cleaner and lighter fluid. They also found a marijuana smoking device behind the driver’s seat.
Police have not come across many so-called “mobile meth labs” or regular meth labs in recent years, as federal and state regulations have cut down on access to many methamphetamine precursors.
“I think it’s been awhile since we’ve had one of those,” Buschena said.