A woman arrested in connection with a meth lab Friday was released following a bond reduction that had sheriff’s officials and those who investigated the case scratching their heads.
Shannon Marie Pope, 26, of 1122 Pope Road, Clinton, initially placed under $150,000 secured bond for numerous drug-related offenses was released after her bond was reportedly reduced to $25,000 unsecured by a county magistrate. Magistrate Robert A. Jackson set the initial bond, which matched the $150,000 bond received by Raymond Lindell Pope, 31, of 1299 Pope Road, Clinton, in connection with the lab discovered at 1122 Pope Road.
The reason for Shannon Pope’s bond reduction is unclear, as is the magistrate who actually made the decision. Raymond Pope remains jailed in the Sampson County Detention Center under $150,000 secured bond.
Both were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, four counts of possessing methamphetamine precursors with intent to manufacture methamphetamine and storage of hazardous waste without a permit. Shannon Pope received additional charges of maintaining a dwelling for manufacture of a controlled substance and two counts of child abuse, while Raymond Pope was charged with second degree trespass and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child.
A child was taken into Department of Social Services custody and turned over to a family member for proper care. The investigation was launched after DSS requested assistance from the Sheriff’s Office with a child welfare check. They were told of a possible lab at the address, where two children lived.
On Wednesday, sheriff’s authorities declined to release further details on the case, citing the fact that a child was involved and there was now a pending DSS and criminal investigation, but said no arrest is made without sufficient evidence and the belief that a successful prosecution will follow.
The case is still under investigation and more arrests are expected. At least one other person is being sought, authorities said.
“There is more to all of this stuff than the general public even has a clue about,” said Sheriff Jimmy Thornton. “You have to have a lot of facts to bring those charges, and even more for a prosecution. Therefore, we’re going to have the facts to make sure we get the prosecution.”
He said that while a child was found at the Pope Road home containing the meth lab at Pope Road, the 12th in the county this year, that is not the first time a child has been handed over to DSS following a meth investigation. In fact, they said, it happened after a meth lab was found just last month, on Aug. 11, at 735 Faison Hwy., Clinton.
Luther Pearson IV, 30, of 514 Stewart Ave., Clinton, and Donald Bass II, 39, of the Faison Highway home, were arrested in connection with that investigation, which subsequently resulted in meth trafficking charges and half-million dollar bonds on each of them.
“Two children were taken by DSS and handed over to a family member,” Thornton noted.
Both of those men, along with Raymond Pope, still sit in the Detention Center.
The sheriff knows well about drug addiction, having seen his entire career the way it feeds into other crime and rips apart communities.
“We are not going to let up on the drug problem in this county,” said Thornton. “They better realize that at some point they will be caught. And the fact that there are small children at some of these locations even further emphasizes the importance of these cases.”
When agents with the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division detected a strong chemical odor coming from a large suitcase near the doorway of the Pope Road residence, everyone was removed from the home for safety and the odor was further investigated. While a search of the rest of the home yielded items use to make meth and other paraphernalia, it was discovered the suitcase contained items to make meth.
The sheriff said the lid to a baby bottle was found in the suitcase with the items. A bond reduction would lead some to believe that Shannon Pope was wrongfully charged, but it came as a surprise to sheriff’s officials, who said the investigation was just another step in the ongoing attempt to eliminate drug activity. That is what the public wants, they said.
“People live in their own world,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith, “and they don’t know what goes on outside their bubble. Where do they think we get this information? People are telling us because they want to get rid of it.”
“They trust us,” Thornton said.
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.