Investigators: Meth not a widespread problem in Rock County, despite two recent lab busts

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Frank Schultz and Jonah Beleckis
Saturday, March 18, 2017

Rock County sheriff's investigators do not believe methamphetamine is a widespread problem here, despite two meth labs they discovered in the space of about five weeks.

The latest search warrant raid came Wednesday, when two people were arrested and a meth lab discovered in Footville, the sheriff's office reported.

The two labs were about a seven-minute drive from each other, but investigators know of no connection between the two, said Cmdr. Troy Knudson of the sheriff's office.

Knudson said deputies are concerned there might be more labs in the county, but he has seen no indication of a rise in meth use here.

Knudson said he reviews arrest reports regularly, and marijuana and heroin remain the major drugs of abuse that show up, while meth possession arrests remain few.

Still, officials are worried things could change.

“Certainly it's a concern that there are more (meth labs) out there, but have no doubt that this is at the top of our priority list,” Knudson said.

Knudson noted the “devastating” health effects of the highly addictive stimulant and noted that the waste from making it is toxic and a danger to the public.

In addition, people under the influence of meth can become irrational, highly agitated and paranoid, posing additional dangers, Knudson said.

“If we can keep that drug out of our community, that would be a very important goal,” Knudson said.

After Wednesday's raid, Jamie W. Shaw, 43, and Trisha L. Malmquist, 37, were charged in Rock County Court on Friday with party to manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine waste, maintaining a drug dwelling and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

After a sheriff's deputy arrested Malmquist in reference to a disturbance, she said, “If you knew what he (Shaw) was doing in the garage, he would be the one in trouble,” according to the criminal complaint. She said she and Shaw made meth daily for personal use.

She said Shaw made meth at their residence at 309 W. Center St., which Assistant District Attorney Mason Braunschweig said Friday was a duplex and sometimes had children in the other residence.

Malmquist also told deputies at the Rock County Jail she was a daily meth user and has been addicted to controlled substances since she was 12 years old, according to the complaint.

A deputy on March 13 checked the National Precursor Log Exchange and found that since July 2016 Malmquist and Shaw made more than 32 purchases of products containing pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used to make meth.

When police executed a search warrant Wednesday, they found gas generators, partially full cans of lantern fuel, lithium battery packages and empty pseudoephedrine blister packages, according to the complaint. These materials are commonly involved in making meth.

Cash bonds of $10,000 were set for Malmquist and Shaw in court Friday.

Braunschweig urged the court to impose high cash bonds because both defendants showed dependencies on meth and could go right back to it if released.

“This is a lifestyle for Mr. Shaw,” he said.

Malmquist and Shaw are next due in court for an adjourned initial appearance at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 21.

The previous raid in Rock County was at 6809 W. County A in the town of Center.

Brother and sister Brittany G. Bobzien, 32, and Keith J. Rose, 37, were charged in connection with that lab.

Both were charged with party to manufacturing and possessing meth, possession of waste and drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug trafficking place.

Both labs involved the less sophisticated method of producing the drug, known as the one-pot or shake-and-bake method, Knudson said.

In both cases, it appeared the drug makers were both users and distributors, Knudson said.

The Footville lab did not appear to have been operating for a long time, Knudson said, but “This was certainly not the first batch they produced.”

Investigators at the scene found small traces of methamphetamine, the remains of previous meth manufacturing and some meth that was in the process of being made, Knudson said.

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