Luther man wanted for questioning in meth investigation

LUTHER — Deputies are looking for a man who they believe has been producing methampethamine at a home near Luther Elementary School.

“We’ve received information that he has left the state,” said Lake County Sheriff Bob Hilts. “(He) is of great interest to the sheriff’s office and we are interested in talking.”

Lake County Sheriff’s deputies were called on Saturday to the man’s Luther home after receiving a tip; however, he was not there at the time. While there, they spoke with a woman who lives with the man and discovered components of methamphetamine production in the basement, Sheriff Bob Hilts said.

No one with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office or SSCENT — the State, Sheriffs and Chiefs Enforcement Narcotics Team that covers drug investigations in Lake, Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties — has been certified in methamphetamine investigation or clean-up, so Central Michigan Enforcement Team was called to assist.

CMET detectives located a one-pot cooking vessel — in this case, a Powerade bottle was used to contain the cook — and other meth manufacturing components at the house, said Det. Lt. Steve Rau.

About a mile down the road, they found another one-pot vessel sitting on a tree stump, which they believe is connected to the same man.

After the components were removed, the woman and her children were allowed to return to the home, Hilts said.

Like many northern Michigan communities, Lake County is fighting a battle against meth manufacturers, Hilts said.

“It’s a growing problem,” Hilts said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make it, so the ease of access to this is becoming more prominent. ... In this case, it was right next to a school and that is just totally, utterly ridiculous. There’s no point to endangering those children, and not only did he endanger them, but his own children as well.”

Meth problems in the area tend to come in spurts, Hilts said. This year, the office is seeing a rise in meth-related arrests and complaints from people who find meth manufacturing components, such as pop bottles with meth remnants in the bottom.

The sheriff’s office is working on developing an outreach program to educate citizens on how to identify possible meth activity or meth components, Hilts said. Trends in the area show many meth cooks are using the one-pot method, so hazardous materials aren’t always contained in clandestine labs or houses because the bottles used for the cook can be tossed out a car window.

Anyone who has information about suspicious drug activity or thinks they might have found meth-related materials should call the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at (231) 745-2712. Residents of Lake, Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties also can contact SSCENT at (231) 843-7045 to report drug activity.

Anyone with information regarding suspicious drug activity in Mecosta, Newaygo, Montcalm and Ionia counties can contact CMET at (989) 352-6738.