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2007-11-08

Misery manufacturers caught

By David Arny

Like playing the carnival game “Whack-a-Mole” - where every time an ugly pest’s head is smacked with a mallet, another pops up - two more clandestine methamphetamine labs in the county were recently put out of business by the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office. This was the seventh local meth lab busted in the past five weeks and the 10th to be taken down so far this year.

A father and son team of suspected dope chefs, Robert Cox Sr., 52, of Mico, and Robert Cox Jr., 23, of Lakehills, were arrested at the Bandera Lodge on Sunday, Oct. 28, purportedly as a fresh batch of their poisonous commodity was being processed for eventual sale.

Sources at the BCSO told the Courier that deputies observed the pair carrying a number of shopping bags into a room of the motel at 700 Highway 16 South. Later that evening, when a drug-sniffing canine was walked through the adjoining parking lot and around the Cox’s truck, the dog indicated the presence of narcotics - and the younger Cox was discovered sleeping in the truck’s passenger seat.

A subsequent search of the suspect revealed a plastic bag which contained a small amount of a powdered substance in the young man’s pants pocket. An investigation ensued and Robert Cox Sr., who was inside the motel room, gave deputies his consent for a search of the room.

Items described by law enforcement personnel as “components involved in the manufacturing of a controlled substance” were found in short order, as well as 900 grams of “meth oil,” the toxic liquid chemical precursor of powdered methamphetamine.
The pair were arrested without incident and transported to the nearby Bandera County Jail.

At the time of his arrest, Donald Cox Jr. was awaiting trial on felony charges of manufacture and delivery of methamphetamine over 400 grams, stemming from a previous arrest last April 10. His earlier bond was pulled after the Oct. 28 arrest and he remains in custody at the Bandera County Jail in lieu of a total of $90,000 in bail.

Donald Cox Sr., charged with one felony count of manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance and one count of possession of certain chemicals to manufacture a controlled substance, must post a $40,000 bond to secure his release from detention.

In a similar incident, Pebble Beach residents Carrie Wilson, 37, and James Keammerer, 47, were pulled over for two minor traffic violations on Nov. 1. Deputies asked for and received permission to search the couple’s vehicle.

Law enforcement officers discovered chemicals used to produce meth, as well as 200 grams of processed meth oil in their vehicle’s back seat. Wilson and Keammerer were arrested on felony charges of manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance and a warrant was obtained for a search of their residence.

When investigators found the telltale chemicals and processing equipment for making meth in the house shared by the couple, volunteer firefighters and Bandera County EMS were summond while Sgts. Scott Sharp and Gerald Johnson suited up in their hazardous materials (HAZMAT) gear in preparation for removal of evidence. Certified hazardous site safety overseer Deputy David Vaught supervised the process.

Several hours later, the operation was completed - another toxic chemical site cleaned up and two more area residents found themselves behind bars as a result of their affinity for methamphetamine. Bail was set for each of the two individuals at $40,000.

(Note - a gram, or 1/28th of an ounce of finished methamphetamine powder, also known as “crank” or “crystal,” typically sells for between $60 to $100, depending on its potency and availability, according to “KCI The Anti-Meth Site,” formerly the Koch Crime Commission website. For more information, go to www.kci.org/meth_info/links.htm)