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Eckerty couple faces many charges in meth lab bust

An Eckerty couple was arrested on numerous methamphetamine charges last Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 18, hen authorities executing a search warrant of their property discovered what may be the largest meth lab ever seized in Crawford County.
Officers from the Indiana State Police, Crawford County Sheriff’s Dept. and Birdseye Marshal’s Dept. went to the residence of Coy Cummings, 36, and his wife, Connie, 39, at 1815 S. Eckerty-Doolittle Mills Road about 4 p.m. to serve a search warrant and look for evidence of illegal drug activity. Crawford County Prosecutor Jim Montgomery said the warrant was issued after a probable cause hearing Tuesday in Crawford Circuit Court that came about as a result of an ISP investigation into illegal drug activity.
“Judge (Lynn) Lopp thought there was reason to believe there was illegal activity going on,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery said the couple was asleep when officers arrived at their home and did not resist when they were taken into custody. During a search of the residence, police found more than 20 grams of packaged meth in a fake container of a brand-name cleaner in a laundry room cabinet. Montgomery said the container had a false bottom that could be removed.
A police drug-sniffing dog, handled by ISP Trooper Kirby Stailey, detected the presence of illegal drugs in a bedroom in the house, and police eventually located additional meth, a small quantity of marijuana, and $1,000 in currency in the drawer of a nightstand. Officers confiscated nine guns in various locations throughout the house, including a 9mm, .45-caliber and .38-caliber handguns, a 30-30-caliber rifle, and a 12-gauge shotgun, among others, Montgomery said.
“The weapons were discovered as they were executing the search warrant,” he added.
Officers searched two outbuildings near the home and inside one found a large, working anhydrous ammonia meth lab, Montgomery said.
The lab is significant because of its physical size and because of the volume of meth it’s capable of producing, he said.
“It’s a major bust for the state police,” Montgomery added.
Montgomery said no other people were in the home at the time of the arrest, and although children do live in the house, they were not present.
Stailey, who is heading the investigation, said the amount of finished meth removed from the premises carries a street value of about $2,000.
The ISP Clandestine Lab Team dismantled the lab, and both Cummings were taken to the Crawford County Jail and charged with: dealing in meth over three grams while in possession of a firearm; manufacturing meth; conspiracy to manufacture meth; possession of two or more precursors with the intent to manufacture meth; illegal possession of anhydrous ammonia; maintaining a common nuisance; reckless possession of paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana under 30 grams.
Authorities also located an ATV with an altered serial number. Both Cummings were additionally charged with possession.
Coy and Connie Cummings made initial court appearances Thursday and asked to be represented by a public defender. As of Monday afternoon, Connie Cummings was being held in the Orange County Jail under $50,000 full cash bond. Coy Cummings was transferred Monday to the Harrison County Jail where he’s held under $100,000 cash bond, with 25 percent allowable for release. (Due to lawsuits about jail conditions, inmates are not kept in the Crawford County Jail for more than 72 hours.)
Montgomery praised the police officers involved with the investigation, calling the seizure one of the most significant meth cases in the area and possibly in the history of the county.
“The officers did an excellent job,” he said.
Montgomery said that police are still investigating the case.
Washington County Prosecutor Cindy Winkler said Coy Cummings is slated to go on trial in Salem March 19 on charges of theft, illegal possession of anhydrous ammonia, and illegal use of a police radio. He was arrested there Dec. 14, 2001.
Cummings and two other men allegedly stole anhydrous ammonia from a large tank in a farm field in the northwest part of the county, near Saltillo. The men were found with three smaller tanks of anhydrous ammonia during a traffic stop later that night and taken into custody. (Anhydrous ammonia is a chemical that is intended for use as a fertilizer but is an ingredient in the production of methamphetamine.)
Detective Brent Miller of the Washington County Sheriff’s Dept. said the street value of the anhydrous ammonia the three allegedly took was between $200 and $500 per pound.
Cummings posted $10,000 cash bond on Dec. 18, 2001, and was released from jail. Winkler said Cummings is scheduled for a pretrial conference Friday in the 2001 case.