Thursday, May 19, 2011

Our Next-Door Neighbors Are Meth-Lords!

DRUGS: Large meth lab found in Walla Walla motel
By Herald staff

One of the largest active methamphetamine labs in Walla Walla County history was discovered Wednesday evening when the Walla Walla SWAT team searched the Walla Walla Vineyard Inn.

Officers raided the motel 325 E. Main St. at 6 p.m. after the city drug unit developed information that a meth lab was inside one of the rooms, said a news release.

As the officers forced their way in through the front door, Clifford E. Chew, 56, allegedly tried to escape out the back door. He was caught a short distance from his room.

Lab certified officers took apart the equipment without incident and took it to a secure location.

Meth and many other items used to make and distribute the drug were seized from the room.

The SWAT Team was helped by sheriff’s deputies, city patrol officers and the city’s Special Teams Unit.

The number of meth labs in Washington state has dropped dramatically in recent years, with much of the drug coming into the country through Mexico.

Chew is a career criminal with more than 35 felony arrests and convictions for attempted murder, first-degree assault, burglary and numerous drug violations.

He is being held in the Walla Walla County Jail on investigation of manufacturing methamphetamine and several other felony drug-related charges.

Chew also has an absconding warrant out of Umatilla County, Ore., and is currently on Umatilla County’s Most Wanted list.

The motel manager, Dena R. Turner, 37, was also arrested Wednesday night after a large amount of ammonia was found in her freezer.

This is a common ingredient in making of meth. She was jailed on suspicion of complicity to manufacture methamphetamine, a class B felony.

Contamination levels at the motel are unknown at this time, said the release. It is also unknown how long Chew had been cooking meth at the motel.

One SWAT Team member suffered an injured knee during the raid.

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