Mt. Vernon Register-News

January 25, 2013

Traffic stop leads to meth lab discovery


CENTRAL CITY — A routine traffic stop early Friday morning in this Marion County community resulted in the arrest of two Morning Sentinel newspaper carriers.

According to Central City Chief of Police Mike Berger, a motorist was stopped at the intersection of Prairie and Commercial streets at 1:42 a.m. Friday for a headlight violation. The officer then discovered the driver — 39-year-old Howard Wesley Mays of Centralia — had a suspended license.

Berger said officers on the scene then dispatched a K-9 unit, suspecting possible drug activity. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed a backpack containing a mobile meth lab, according to Berger.

Mays and his recently-married wife, 27-year-old Ann Marie Burgess Mays, who has a Odin address according to an online court database, were arrested on various drug charges, including manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of meth precursors, possession of between 0-5 grams of meth and use of a property to manufacture meth, as well as possession of meth manufacturing chemicals with the intent to manufacture, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of between 2.5 and 10 grams of cannabis.

The Illinois State Police meth response team was called to secure the vehicle and evidence, the chief reported.

The couple was taken to the Marion County Jail where bond was expected to be set on Friday.

Berger said while the find was significant, and probably wouldn’t have been made had it not been for the headlight violation, meth manufacturing has become the norm in the region rather than the exception.

“Everybody in the area is doing it. It’s pretty much a day-to-day operation anymore,” Berger said. “It’s considered a progressive stop. You find an infraction and it just escalates to the point that it becomes more as the investigation continues.”