Saline County deputies arrested two people Wednesday after remnants of a mobile methamphetamine lab were found near a pond north of Slater. According to a probable cause statement, James Northweather Jr., 24, who was already in custody on unrelated felony theft charges, led deputies to an area off of Route C where authorities reported finding ingredients used in the “shake-and-bake” production of meth.
Northweather claimed the items seized by deputies belonged to Russell Hostetter, 36. He initially told detectives that Hostetter had asked him to move the lab. Northweather then said he discovered the items when he went to collect his fishing poles.
While en route to the scene, Northweather admitted that his fingerprints would be on a Dr. Pepper bottle that Hostetter used. When asked if he had recently purchased pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, Northweather stated he had bought some in the last week for his grandmother, according to the sheriff’s report.
While at the scene, authorities determined Northweather’s information was too specific for him to not have had some involvement in the operation. Northweather admitted he had purchased pseudoephedrine for Hostetter in exchange for money. He further stated that he had purchased additional items used to make meth from a Marshall store on two occasions. Authorities said surveillance footage from the business was consistent with Northweather’s story.
Hostetter, who was also being held at the sheriff’s department on unrelated charges, was brought in for questioning. Hostetter reportedly refused to submit to a drug test and declined to answer any questions without his attorney present.
Hostetter had been taken into custody by Marshall police on Monday, July 8. The police report stated Hostetter attempted to flee following a traffic stop. The report also said Hostetter and Northweather were together at that time. Officers believed Hostetter was under the influence of methamphetamine and he was booked into the jail.
Hostetter has pleaded guilty in at least five drug-related cases from 2001-2009. He was charged in June 2013 with possession of a controlled substance and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. A hearing in that case is scheduled for July 17 at 9 a.m.
Northweather has one case pending against him. He was charged Wednesday, July 10 with theft of a credit card. Bond was set at $4,000.
Both men are now facing charges of manufacturing a controlled substance and felony possession of drug paraphernalia. Formal charges had not been filed at the time of this report.