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sheriff’s deputies and Salida firefighters assist BLM officials dismantling suspected meth operation

21
May
Randal Phipps

Randal Phipps

A campsite that contained suspected methamphetamine chemicals and explosives materials discovered on Bureau of Land Management property southeast of Salida was successfully dismantled by authorities last Friday.  Deputy Martin Johnson, a certified clandestine laboratory technician, aided BLM and Salida Fire Department officials in the operation. BLM Ranger Steve Cunningham initially discovered the camp.  Its occupant was found to be in the Chaffee County Detention Center on unrelated charges.  The campsite, consisting of two tents, was littered with items commonly used in the production of methamphetamine such as plastic bottles with plastic tubing attached, lithium batteries, lighters, and a glass pipe used for smoking the drug.  Salida firefighter Ron Parks and Deputy Johnson donned hazmat protective suits and self- contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to enter the area and test the unknown liquids for chemicals indicating methamphetamine production.  Several bottles were tested and registered positive for the drug. 

Also discovered at the site were several suspected improvised explosive devices.  Authorities emailed photos of the devices to the Colorado Springs Regional Bomb Squad for evaluation and technicians from that unit responded to assist.  All devices were successfully disarmed by technicians without incident.

The alleged occupant of the campsite is Randal C. Phipps, 31, of Salida.  He is being held on local charges of failure to appear in court with a bond of $10,000.  The US Attorney’s Office is evaluating the case to determine appropriate federal charges.

 

Sheriff's deputy Marty Johnson at the campsite

Sheriff’s deputy Marty Johnson at the campsite

 

Deputy Marty Johnson

Deputy Marty Johnson

 

Salida firefighter Ron Parks and Deputy Marty Johnson suit up

Salida firefighter Ron Parks and Deputy Marty Johnson suit up