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Deputies make meth arrests

Staff Writer

Deputies locked up five suspects Thursday after several calls to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office drug tip line prompted narcotics officers to investigate possible drug activity near Pumpkin Center and Lowesville.

Investigators located a meth lab at a residence on Hunter Rhyne Road and materials for making a similar lab inside an area vehicle, an agency press release said.

Deputy David Millerstrom reported locating chemicals used to make methamphetamine inside a back pack in the trunk of a vehicle he stopped around 10:30 p.m. Thursday in Lowesville near N.C. 16 South and McIntosh Road.

Millerstrom initiated the traffic stop after he was unable to read the vehicle’s bent license plate, the release said.

A search of the vehicle turned up a syringe and crack pipe in addition to the back pack in the trunk, he reported.

Agents with the State Bureau of Investigation cleaned and processed the vehicle Friday at the Sheriff’s Office impound lot, the release said.

Deputies charged two people in the incident, Curtis Lee Blalock, 44, of 6744 Old Plank Road in Stanley, and Michael Elston Smith Jr., 38, of 1169 Furnace Road in Iron Station. They both received one felony count of possession/distribution of a meth precursor and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.Blalock was additionally charged with having no operator’s license and remains in jail under a $5,500 secured bond. Smith is being held under a $5,000 secured bond.

In an apparently unrelated incident earlier that day, narcotics investigators shut down a meth lab at 4527 Hunter Rhyne Road and arrested three individuals in the incident, the Sheriff’s Office said. Drug officers from Catawba County and SBI agents assisted Lincoln County authorities in cleaning up the home’s toxic chemicals.

Those arrested in the bust included the residents Aaron Stuart Vancamp, 40, Daniel Phillip Stoddard, 22, and Valarie Christine McDowell, 42. They were each charged with one felony count of manufacturing a schedule II controlled substance.

All three suspects remain in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center, each under a $25,000 secured bond.

Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter commended the narcotics division for their “vigilant” checks of suspicious area vehicles and commitment to following up on every drug tip from the community.

“Thanks to the hard work of our drug investigators,” he said in the release.

Carpenter said he is confident that Thursday’s residential search warrant will be the first of many more to come across the county “as information continues to come in concerning drug activity,” he said.

Individuals may reach the drug tip line at (704) 736-8606 and may remain anonymous.

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