Shoplifting call turns into multi-agency meth bust

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, December 17, 2014


A routine shoplifting call turned out to be anything but routine as information from that incident led to a multi-agency investigation, the discovery of a meth lab and the arrest of four Elizabethton residents.
On Dec. 10, officers of the Elizabethton Police Department responded to a reported shoplifting at Walmart. Two females, identified as Jessica Vines, 27, 111 Bishop Hollow Road, Elizabethton, and Tara Carden, 30, 708 Maple St., Elizabethton, were detained by store employees after they were alleged to have concealed merchandise and attempted to leave the store without paying for it.
“During the investigation, Carden was found to be in possession of assorted drug paraphernalia and different medications,” EPD Capt. Joy Shoun said. “Carden was also found to be in possession of a coffee filter with a white powdery substance, which was tested and gave a positive indication for methamphetamine.” Carden also had lithium batteries, and several pills containing pseudoephedrine with her at the time of the incident, Shoun said.
Carden was arrested at that time and charged with criminal trespassing, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of Schedule II drugs, possession of Schedule III drugs, and possession of legend drugs without a prescription.
“Following the shoplifting incident a joint investigation was conducted by investigators with the Elizabethton Police Department Vice Unit and Carter County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit, regarding information that indicated Carden and Vines were involved with the manufacture of methamphetamine,” Shoun said.
The investigation led police to execute a search warrant on the vehicle Carden had driven to Walmart.
“During the search, officers located numerous components used to manufacture methamphetamine,” Shoun said. “The components included three ‘gassers’ and a ‘one pot’ methamphetamine lab.
Carden was additionally charged with initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine, promotion of methamphetamine, and felony possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police also located information during the search which led them to another suspect, identified as Ronald Forrest Lowe, 42, 1435 Broad St., Elizabethton, who was arrested on Dec. 13 and charged with initiation of the process to manufacture of methamphetamine, felony possession of drug paraphernalia, and additional drug related charges.
The same day Lowe was arrested, police located another suspect, Larry Bowers Jr., 37, 163 Grace Lewis Road, Elizabethton, in a vehicle in the parking lot of Walmart. Vines, who had been present during the initial shoplifting investigation, was in the vehicle with Bowers.
“Bowers had an outstanding warrant, issued by CCSO for Sale of Schedule II, and was also being sought for questioning regarding his involvement and affiliation in the on-going methamphetamine investigation,” Shoun said.
Police spoke to Bowers, Shoun said, and asked him to step out of the vehicle. “Bowers did not comply and placed the vehicle into reverse, and accelerated, nearly striking both investigators,” Shoun said. “Bowers then placed the vehicle in drive and accelerated at a high rate of speed through the parking lot nearly striking a motorist, fleeing the area.”
Following the parking lot encounter, police took out additional warrants against Bowers charging him with evading arrest by motor vehicle, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, driving on a suspended license second offense, expired registration, running a stop sign, and two counts of aggravated assault on officers.
Police located Bowers the following day during a traffic stop conducted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Carter County Sheriff’s Office. Once again, Vines was a passenger in Bowers’ vehicle and both Bowers and Vines were arrested.
“At the time of his arrest, officers located coffee filters containing a white powdery substance, believed to be methamphetamine, in Bowers’ possession,” Shoun said. “Also located were items including lighter fluid, pseudoephedrine pills, scales, and an active gasser bottle, all used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.”
Bowers was served with the outstanding warrants and was additionally charged with possession of Schedule II for resale, driving on a suspended license second offense, removal of registration decal, two counts of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, attempted promotion of methamphetamine, and initiation of methamphetamine manufacture.
Vines was charged with five counts of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture and one count of attempted promotion of methamphetamine manufacture.
Bowers is currently being held in the Carter County Detention Center on an $85,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Jan. 13.
Vines is being held in the jail on a $20,750 bond and is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Dec. 29.
Lowe was out on bond for unrelated charges when he was arrested during this investigation. He is now being held in the jail without bond. He is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Jan. 26.
Carden is being held in the jail on a $3,000 Corporate bond, which means her bond must be posted through a bail bonding agency. In General Sessions Court on Monday Carden was bound over to the Grand Jury on her charges.

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