28 charged in meth-making conspiracy in Whitley County

2005 staff file photo.
2005 staff file photo. LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

More than two dozen people took part in making a large amount of methamphetamine in a rural Whitley County community, according to police and a federal indictment unsealed Monday.

The indictment listed charges against 28 people in the case. Some were charged earlier and already were in jail, but police arrested several more Sunday night and Monday, said Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird.

The indictment charges the 28 with conspiring to make more than 500 grams of meth in the Canada Town area.

The people charged in the conspiracy actually produced thousands of grams of the highly addictive drug, Bird said. The indictment uses the 500-gram figure because that is a threshold amount under federal law.

The participants in the alleged conspiracy abused much of the meth they produced but sold it as well, Bird said.

"I think it was a big source of meth that we were seeing here," Bird said.

People produce meth by mixing certain chemicals in soft-drink bottles with over-the-counter cold and allergy medication that contains pseudoephedrine, setting off a reaction that makes the illegal drug.

Kentucky has had some of the highest numbers of meth-lab incidents in the country during the past several years.

Court records indicate the alleged drug ring at Canada Town included people who made the meth, called cooks, and others whose job was to buy cold medicine for the cooks to use, called smurfers.

Various police agencies were investigating meth cases at Canada Town, but the efforts came together in a common federal case after an incident in March, Bird said.

A state probation officer, Angie Ballou, found drug paraphernalia and drugs during a visit to the home of Daniel Moeser and Lisa Canada Ball; when police arrived to investigate, they found an explosive device in a man's work boot, according to a sworn statement from Todd E. Tremaine, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Moeser, Ball and another man at the house told police that day about connections with other people who cooked meth or supplied pills, according to Tremaine's affidavit.

"We realized, wow, we've got a major conspiracy here," Bird said.

Police think people in the drug ring cooked meth daily for more than two years.

They took the small labs, which can blow up, with them as they drove through the area, and sometimes walked along the road with a bottle in hand or in a pocket, according to a news release from Williamsburg police.

Bird said there are a lot of good people in Canada Town who had complained to police about being inundated by drugs.

"I'm sure they're tickled to death" by the arrests, Bird said.

Williamsburg police, the Whitley County Sheriff's Office, state police and ATF investigated the case.