GREENVILLE — Methamphetamine-related crimes are on the rise in Montcalm County, and law enforcement officials are racing to keep up with the addicts turned criminals.
Montcalm County Sheriff Bill Barnwell said his officers have been working closely with the Central Michigan Enforcement Team (CMET) and the Greenville Department of Public Safety in light of an “increase in meth-related incidents within the county, especially in the Greenville area.”
“It is critical that law enforcement remain vigilant in this area of illegal drug use,” Barnwell said. “Meth is extremely addictive and can consume people quickly once they become addicted.”
Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause agreed, saying meth is a “highly addictive, destructive drug.”
“We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who not only cook meth, but also those who supply the cooks and use as well,” Krause said.
Flat River Inn meth bust
A man and two women were arrested last weekend as the result of a meth investigation at a Greenville motel.
Sheriff’s deputies, with the assistance of the Greenville Department of Public Safety, conducted the investigation at the Flat River Inn at 2 a.m. Saturday.
Natasha Allen, 29, of Greenville, and Ashley Hansen, 23, of Belding, were both found to be in possession of meth, prescription narcotics and various drug paraphernalia. They have been charged and are scheduled for a pre-trial Monday and a preliminary examination Tuesday in 64B District Court in Stanton.
Daniel King, 25, of Greenville, was found to have outstanding warrants for his arrest in Ionia County and was transported to the Ionia County Jail on a contempt of court charge. He has not yet been charged in Montcalm County.
Flat River Trail meth discovery
Four people were arrested after a stash of meth paraphernalia was found on the Flat River Trail in Greenville last July — including Hansen, who was arrested at the Flat River Inn last weekend.
The crime trail led back to Donald Allen III, 31, of Eureka Township. Allen’s meth addiction became public knowledge when he attempted to create a one-pot meth lab in his pickup truck the night of May 6 in Eureka Township. The meth lab exploded, engulfing the pickup truck in flames and causing Allen to flee into the woods, discarding his clothes on the way.
Sheriff’s deputies and Greenville police officers arrived to find meth components in and around the fire-ravaged vehicle. Spectrum Health United Hospital officials contacted police later that night after Allen sought treatment for severe burns sustained in the explosion.
Less than three months later, police received information about a stash of meth paraphernalia hidden on the Flat River Trail between the Flat River Museum and the Flat River in Greenville. The stash included two reaction containers and other meth production components, as well as hazardous waste associated with meth production.
The investigation once again led to Allen, who was located and arrested on an outstanding warrant for the meth explosion three months prior. Allen admitted to disposing the meth equipment on the trail behind the museum.
Allen eventually pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and operating or maintaining a meth lab. He was sentenced earlier this month in 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Stanton to from one year and six months to 10 years in prison.
Allen’s girlfriend, Melissa Mudget, 30, of Evart, was arrested in connection to one of Allen’s meth labs for supplying pseudoephedrine to Allen. Pseudoephedrine is commonly used to treat congestion, but is also one of the primary ingredients in the manufacturing of meth.
Mudget pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced this week.
Michael Smith, 30, of Orleans, and Hansen were also arrested and charged in connection to the meth labs. Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced earlier this month to 12 months in jail. The case against Hansen was dismissed in court last August, but she is still facing charges related to Saturday’s meth bust at the Flat River Inn.
Meth use linked to murder
One decade ago, Mudget was involved in a case where meth use led to a murder in Montcalm County.
Mudget was 20 years old when she and a 16-year-old female accompanied four young men to a Trufant home on July 19, 2002.
Mudget and the female teen smoked meth in a vehicle parked outside the home while the four young men broke into the house in search of drugs. Instead they found Henry Marrott, 88, and they beat him to death inside his own home.
Mudget and the teenage girl pleaded guilty to being accomplices to a murder. They were sentenced to two years probation in December 2006.
A jury found Heath McGowen, now 31 years old, of Greenville, his brother, Clint McGowen, now 29, of Orleans, and Edward Griffes, now 30, of Greenville, guilty of first-degree murder. They were all sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A fourth man, Michael Hansen, now 31 years old, of Greenville, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to from 22 years and six months to 50 years in prison in December 2006.