The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 28, 2013

Ashtabula woman charged after meth lab bust

By STACY MILLBERG - smillberg@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — A 28-year-old Ashtabula woman was arrested Thursday after law enforcement officials received information of her possible involvement in manufacturing methamphetamine.

Maria Wooten, of 1627 W. 19th St. Apt. A, was arraigned Friday afternoon in Ashtabula Mun-icipal Court. She was charged with two counts of illegal manufacture of drugs or cultivation      of methamphetamine, according to a court spokesperson.

Wooten entered no plea during her arraignment and was released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond, according to a court spokesperson.

Detectives from the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department along with TAG officers and a Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation agent were notified by the Madison Police Department of a subject purchasing pseudoephedrine, commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, in excess of legal limitations, according to reports.

Wooten was identified, by still-camera images, purchasing the medication with a young child present, according to reports.

ACSO Det. Taylor Cleveland and Det. Brian Cumberledge responded to Wooten’s apartment with TAG officers and the BCI&I agent. Wooten reportedly came to the door with her 5-year-old child, according to reports.

Detectives asked her to separate herself from the child so the child was not present while they spoke, but Wooten refused to do so. Detectives advised her they were conducting a drug investigation surrounding her and she was likely to be charged as a result, according to reports.

While detectives were standing outside the apartment, a chemical odor was detected from inside the apartment. When Wooten was asked about it she reportedly told detectives she “smells it all the time as well.” She reportedly said “some people a couple apartments away were just arrested for drugs,” according to reports.

Detectives reportedly asked Wooten for permission to enter her apartment to further speak to her about their investigation; however, Wooten reportedly became very defensive and asked if they had a search warrant, according to reports.

After several attempts to gain permission to enter her apartment, Wooten finally allowed them in, according to reports.

Cleveland began searching kitchen cabinets and reportedly observed a “one pot” style meth lab inside a plastic 20 ounce bottle. It was not active and reportedly contained waste product left as a result of making methamphetamine, according to reports.

Wooten reportedly immediately broke down emotionally stating the meth lab was not hers. She was arrested and Ashtabula County Children Services was notified to assist with the child, according to reports.

Wooten’s live-in boyfriend arrived at the apartment and was arrested on an outstanding warrant with Lake County. He reportedly began giving detectives explanations for the meth lab, according to reports.

He reportedly told detectives someone came into the apartment through the attic and placed the meth lab in the cupboard. He also reportedly told detectives he finds meth labs “popping” up around the apartment complex all the time and he takes them into the apartment so children don’t find them, according to reports.

Detectives also found other meth-related items in the wooded area directly behind the apartment complex, according to reports.

A family member was contacted to take custody of the child in lieu of the child going with CSB, according to reports.

Both Wooten and her boyfriend were transported to Ashtabula County Jail. Wooten is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 10 in Ashtabula Municipal Court.