Tip leads Columbiana cops to meth arrest

COLUMBIANA — City police had a busy weekend with the discovery of at least three “one pot” meth labs on Saturday and an unrelated arrest of a fugitive from Texas the day before.

The two charged in connection with the meth labs, Christopher Cole Bowersock, 36, Wellsville, and Wendi R. Hunley, 42, East Liverpool, appeared in county Municipal Court on Monday.

Both are charged with illegal assembly or possession and were scheduled to appear back in court for preliminary hearings on Dec. 10.

According to the affidavit filed with the court, Columbiana Patrolman Mark Edwards was called to the laundromat on South Main Street on Saturday afternoon in response to a tip.

While Edwards was talking to Hunley outside the business, a plastic bottle with liquid and white substance fell out of a backpack she was carrying and landed on the ground at this feet.

Police received a consent to search and found that Hunley was in possession of Coleman fuel, ammonia nitrate, beads, drain cleaner, sulfuric acid, lithium batteries and other paraphernalia and equipment used to manufacture meth, the affidavit stated.

Columbiana Police Chief Tim Gladis released additional details on the arrests on Monday. He also posted the information on the department’s Facebook page.

He said that one of the department’s HEAT (Hometown Enforcement Against Trafficking) program officers received a tip from a member of another police department about possible drug activity on South Main Street and that K-9 Officer Brian Granchie, who was off-duty at the time, offered to respond.

Granchie then notified Edwards and officers Kevin Kloss and Mary Kloss, who were out on patrol at the time.

Gladis reiterated what ensued, which was that a bottle fell out of Hunley’s bag while she was speaking with Edwards, who recognized it as a “one pot” meth “cook.”

Gladis said that due to the danger associated with meth labs, police dispatch called Detective Ryan Pike since he has special certification and training in dismantling meth labs. Hazmat specialists from the county Drug Task Force were also called to make sure the scene was safe, and additional safety measures included placing Columbiana Fire and EMS on stand by in the event of an explosion or fire.

Police found two additional “one pot” meth labs in the car the two had been driving, as well as an acid gas generator and chemicals, he said.

“The relationships developed through our HEAT and K-9 programs were instrumental in getting such a quick reaction to some rapidly changing intelligence information,” Gladis said.

The local department formed HEAT earlier this year to crack down on drug and human trafficking and stolen goods trafficking.

Gladis also praised the dedication of the city’s officers, two of whom were off duty at the time.

He also said it was Mary Kloss, the department’s newest officer, who handled the Friday arrest of Maynard Leo Clark, 51, of 325 S. Main St., who is a fugitive from justice wanted by the Dallas, Texas police department for a parole violation that stemmed from a burglary charge.

Gladis said that Kloss acted on information she received that Clark was at the South Main Street home Friday afternoon.

Gladis assisted Kloss with Clark’s arrest and he was taken to the county jail to await extradition. The police department was able to obtain a fugitive warrant to hold him for Dallas.

“Good police work and a very astute performance by a new officer,” Gladis said.