Authorities in Coffee County arrested a suspect Sunday wanted in Lebanon for a methamphetamine lab found in a car parked in the Walmart parking lot earlier this month.
But Jamie Lee Smotherman, 40, of Brush Creek will have to wait to face local charges because he was released to Smith County authorities Tuesday to face a laundry list of meth-related offenses there.
According to Coffee County authorities, Smotherman was charged Sunday with criminal impersonation, possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia. On Tuesday, Smotherman was released to Smith County deputies in exchange for time served.
A Smith County court clerk said Smotherman had five active warrants there. The first includes charges for driving on a suspended license, no proof of insurance and driving a non-registered vehicle. The second warrant includes charges of initiation of process, two counts of possession of schedule II drugs, simple possession of drugs, possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed and possession of drug paraphernalia. The third warrant includes charges of promotion of meth manufacture, initiation of process, possession of schedule II drugs and possession of a weapon while eluding. The fourth warrant includes two counts of possession of schedule II drugs charges. The fifth warrant includes charges of possession of schedule II drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Lebanon police issued a warrant for Smotherman for manufacture of meth, initiation of process, simple possession of schedule II drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and reckless endangerment.
Police Sgt. Joe Nokes responded to a shoplifting call at the Walmart Supercenter on Aug. 12 at around 2:30 p.m. According to Nokes, the store’s loss prevention team saw Smotherman and a woman, believed to be his girlfriend, Tiffany Mullins, take cold compresses and batteries out of the store without paying for them.
Nokes said lithium in batteries and ingredients in cold compresses are commonly used to make meth.
He said the couple tried to get into a red Saturn car, but the loss prevention members stopped them. The woman got into another waiting vehicle and left, but Nokes cited Smotherman for misdemeanor shoplifting before he left on foot.
Nokes said he called in a K9 unit, and the dog alerted officers to the presence of drugs in the Saturn.
An active “shake-and-bake” meth lab was found in the trunk of the car. Police meth technician Chris Luna was then called to the scene, along with firefighters and public safety officials to secure the area surrounding the car.
Luna said the lab was active. Officers said they also found two additional jars filled with liquid that tested positive for meth, along with ingredients commonly used to make meth, in the car.
Officers also found a prescription pill bottle with a Smotherman’s name on it that matched the name he gave for his police citation. Police couldn’t hold him at the time on the misdemeanor charge.
State meth task force agents were called in to properly dispose of the lab and ingredients.
Luna said this situation could have turned deadly, but officials handled the situation the best they possibly could.
“The bottle and lab in the car was about the size of the lab that blew the wall out of the Travel Inn,” Luna said.
Two men caused a meth lab explosion at the Travel Inn motel in October last year.
“The problem with mobile labs is below the meth and metals of the car is usually a gas tank,” Luna said.
Luna said Lebanon police have discovered about a dozen meth labs this year, and two or three of those were mobile labs. He said anyone who suspects the presence of a meth lab should get away and notify police.
Mullins, who remains on the loose, could possibly go by Tiffany McDonald. It’s unknown when Smotherman will face charges in Wilson County.