By C. COLT CRANE
BURLEY – Last week, Cassia County Sheriff’s Office deputies located a methamphetamine inside a vehicle after being pulled over at 1134 Normal Avenue in Burley. Officers responding to the scene arrested Tommy E. Robinson, 33 and Byanca Palomo, 31. The pair was arrested on drug charges and Robinson was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.
Robinson was pulled over after a sheriff’s office deputy recognized the vehicle belonging to Palomo who had an active warrant out for her arrest. The officer approached Robinson who was the sole occupant of the vehicle and asked for identification. When Robinson failed to provide a current driver’s license, the officer informed Robinson that the vehicle’s registered owner would need to pick up the vehicle.
Palomo arrived on the scene to retrieve the vehicle where she was arrested for her current warrant. Robinson was also arrested due to a warrant issued from Pennsylvania. A tow company was called to remove the vehicle and officers performed a tow inventory on the car. During the tow inspection, items were found that were consistent with the “one-pot” method ofmethamphetamine manufacturing.
Cassia County officers secured a search warrant for the vehicle and contacted the Idaho State Police to process the meth lab found in the vehicle.
Officers closed off the 1100 block of Normal Avenue and asked residents to remain in their homes due to safety issues. Robinson and Palomo were transported to the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center. The suspects were searched and detention officers found illegal controlled substances on Robinson and Palomo.
Cassia County officers were contacted regarding the state of meth use in the community.
“I don’t think meth is on the decline, but I don’t think that there is a huge spike locally either. I think it’s been fairly constant and steady in my experience,” said Lieutenant Kevin Horak of the Cassia County Sheriff’s Office Investigations division.
“That being said, the meth lab situation is probably going to increase,” said Horak.
Horak stated that with the increase in border crack-downs, the difficulty in distributing meth is growing.
“The unfortunate fact is that it’s still fairly easy to produce meth on a small scale,” said Horak.
“These guys are figuring out how to do it and the fact that we’re going to have labs in Cassia County is on the rise.”
Sergeant Dan Renz, also from Investigations of the Cassia County Sheriff’s Office agreed with Horak’s statements.
“I don’t think meth use is on the rise,” said Renz.
“It’s plateaued out at a bad level, I don’t want to paint a good picture on it, but I think nationwide, the number of meth labs is at peak levels. We’re going to start seeing more of these, but we are prepared if we come across them.”
The frequency of localized meth labs in the community is slowly increasing according to Horak and Renz.
“I think it’s going to be increasing, unfortunately,” said Horak.
The identification and subsequent bust of last week’s meth lab came as a result of routine police work.
“Two people were arrested on warrants so we had to have the vehicle towed according to policy,” said Renz.
“As the vehicle was towed they inventoried the items and found the lab.”
Horak stated the importance of Cassia County officers being properly trained and able to identify these types of labs when they come across them.
“We put a high priority on trying to train up and teach and have all of the deputies being aware of the labs and all of the components and parts and pieces,” said Horak.
“I think that really makes the difference, having educated officers.”