Traffic Stop Yields Clues to Suspected Drug Lab

One Arrested, Charges Pending on Two Others

(Joppa, Md. – June 9, 2006) — A Harford County Sheriff’s Deputy on routine patrol conducted a traffic stop which resulted in a hazardous materials and drug investigation. The motor vehicle stop occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, 2006 in the 900 block of Pulaski Highway in Joppa.

Immediately following the stop, the operator of the vehicle, Valarie Ann James, 24, of Goldsboro, North Carolina, was charged with various motor vehicle violations. Subsequent to the traffic stop, deputy sheriffs performed an inventory search of a 1994 Oldsmobile operated by James. During the search, deputies discovered a 30 pound cylinder in the trunk of the vehicle, as well as suspected methamphetamine and marijuana in the car.

Due to the circumstances involving the stop, the Harford County Hazardous Materials Response Team was summoned to the scene to assist in determining the presence of any hazardous substances in the cylinder found in the trunk of the car. Haz-Mat technicians determined the cylinder contained anhydrous ammonia, a product used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

As a result of further investigation, deputy sheriffs and federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proceeded to the Super 8 Motel in the 1000 block of Pulaski Highway where a search and seizure warrant was executed on a hotel room at that location. Prior to the execution of the warrant, two adult males, one 27 years of age and a 21 year-old, were taken into custody without incident.

During the search of the room by sheriff’s deputies and DEA agents, materials and components used to manufacture methamphetamine were discovered, as well as a shotgun.

Due to the sensitive nature of the search and investigation, the hotel was temporarily evacuated of guests and employees. No injuries were reported.

James and the two male suspects will face federal charges of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and weapons charges. They will be charged later today in Baltimore by federal authorities.

The investigation of the suspected drug operation is continuing.

Press Release

June 09, 2006