Three sentenced for meth conspiracy
Written by Voice Staff report
Friday, 04 December 2009
Three men caught late last year cooking meth in northern McCreary County were sentenced to a combined 441 months in federal prison the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Amul Thapar sentenced Darrell Ray Rollins, of Parkers Lake, to 192 months in prison; Darrin Jackson Renfro, of Parkers Lake, to 189 months in prison and Stephen A. Phillips, of Whitley City, to 60 months in prison for conspiracy to manufacture five grams or more of methamphetamine. The individuals were also ordered to pay more than $2,000 in restitution for clean up of the lab and the injuries sustained by a McCreary County Deputy.
“This is a pretty significant sentence and we hope that people look at this and recognize that if they become involved with a conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, they face very stiff penalties,” said Kyle Edelyn, Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. District Attorney.
Edelyn said Rollins, 48, Renfro, 26, and Phillips, 29, all pled guilty to federal charges in the case and their role in the conspiracy to manufacture meth.
According to the plea agreement, the men were arrested on August 12, 2008 following an investigation by the Kentucky State Police and the McCreary County Sheriff’s Department. The men were located near a residence along North Bee Rock Road cooking meth at a clandestine laboratory they established in the woods. Because Rollins and Philips resisted authorities, officers were forced to use a taser gun on both individuals to subdue them before taking them into custody. Renfro was found in a tree near the clandestine lab. Law enforcement also found propane tanks, a garden hose and pseudoephedrine; a key ingredient necessary to the production of meth. Pseudoephedrine is a common decongestant found in many over the counter cold and allergy medications.
Following the arrest, Phillips told authorities he and Rollins manufactured methamphetamine in a similar manner on at least 10 occasions between April and August 2008.
Edelyn said the case against the individuals began eleven days prior to the arrest in northern McCreary County. Pulaski County law enforcement were notified an individual had purchased 12 bottles of lye, another element in making the drug, from a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Somerset.
“This was key because an employee at that store saw this occurring and his intuition told him something wasn’t right and he acted on it,” Edelyn said. “That is what we ask everyone in the public to do. Be aware of what is going on around you, who is buying what in stores and if something doesn’t seem right, notify authorities. This is a great example where someone’s intuition led law enforcement right to the defendants.”
Officers followed the vehicle to Rollins’ residence where they searched the vehicle and recovered the lye. At the time, officers also discovered other components used in manufacturing meth including lithium batteries, drain cleaner and 4,837 pseudoephedrine tablets.
While recent laws have made obtaining pseudoephedrine more difficult, Edelyn said in many instances, defendants recruit other individuals to shop for and deliver the cold pills.
“That is a big thing under federal law, because those individuals become part of the conspiracy,” Edelyn said. “You may not use meth or actually get directly involved in the manufacturing process, but are subject to the same penalties as others involved in the conspiracy.” Anyone convicted of such a crime faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and could face more when the prior criminal history is considered.
“If you are caught and found guilty, it is an automatic ten years behind bars, no questions asked,” Edelyn added. Individuals facing federal prison sentences must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence and are often subjected to lengthy periods of supervised release.
The nature of such conspiracies, and the number of people that can become involved with one operation to manufacture meth, has tripled the U.S. Attorney’s Office caseload this year when considering meth-related offenses.
“That is just staggering numbers for us not to mention the affects this is having on our local communities,” Edelyn said. “There are so many aspects of this drug that are negative, that is so dangerous to everyone involved. In this case, a deputy was injured so imagine what happens to children and others exposed to this drug. I don’t know of another drug that has a larger residual effect on a community than methamphetamine.”
Edelyn said meth is arguably the most addictive drug available on the streets today and those using it “are willing to do anything to get it.”
“Again we ask for the public to help us. If you see something you think is odd, report it and let the authorities, who are familiar with this drug and its manufacturing process, make the determination on the case,” Edelyn added. “But, as with most of law enforcement, their foundation to make a case and go out and make arrests depends solely on the public.”
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Kentucky State Police, U.S. Forest Service, Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force and the McCreary County Sheriff’s Office. The United States was represented in the case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Parman.
To report activity related to manufacturing of methamphetamine or other suspicious drug-related activity, make a confidential call to 1-877-901-3784. A reward is available for information leading to convictions. Tips can also be reported by calling (606) 376-8847.