November 27, 2003

Raid On Deer Camp Uncovers Meth Lab

What started out as an inspection of a deer camp by Missouri Department of Conservation agents north of Kilwinning in Scotland County ended nearly 12 hours later with the discovery of a methamphetamine lab and the arrests of seven southern Missouri men.

MDC agents Gary Miller of Scotland County and Shannon Smith of Schuyler County arrived at the deer hunting camp at approximately 11:00 a.m. Saturday, November 22. A quick review of the camp revealed an apparent meth lab. At that time a number of the camp’s occupants began returning to the site from hunting.

The MDC officers placed a call for immediate back up at the scene at 11:39 a.m. with officers from the Scotland County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol responding to the scene.

Initially five men were taken into custody at the camp. Arrested were Fred M. Fleetwood, 54, of Imperial; Matthew L. Fleetwood, 20, of House Springs; Scott A. Johnson, 38, of House Springs; Jason M. Louton, 21, of Barnhart; and Jeff D. Mergelkamp, 25, of Imperial. All five men were charged with the manufacture of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, a class B felony.

While the individuals were being taken into custody a pickup containing a driver and a passenger pulled into the camp but quickly exited the scene before returning a short time later without the passenger.

Officers began a search for the man from the vehicle scouring the area for the suspect who was considered armed and dangerous as he was packing a high-powered deer rifle.

Officers from the Scotland County Sheriff’s Department arrested Paul D. Dennison, 38, of Arnold later that evening after receiving a call from a neighboring landowner regarding a hunter trespassing. He was charged with manufacturing a controlled substance and also will face a number of additional charges regarding resisting arrest and fleeing the scene.

After arresting Dennison officers returned to the deer camp to collect an additional piece of evidence. The officers noticed a vehicle approaching the camp and stopped the truck. During an ensuing search of the vehicle a substance believed to be methamphetamine was found resulting in a seventh arrest. John T. Ahonen, 34, of Barnhart was taken into custody at 10:38 p.m. and ticketed for possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of meth.

Five of the suspects are being housed in the Adair County Detention Center with a sixth placed at the Clark County Jail. Ahonen was cited and released after posting bail.

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