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Domestic call in Northwood, N.D., leads to meth lab bust

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A domestic disturbance call Wednesday night involving a bread knife resulted in officers discovering a methamphetamine lab at a rural Northwood, N.D., home.

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Shortly after 9 p.m., Northwood police officers arrived at the house and found 52-year-old Donald Moore holding the serrated knife with a 12-inch blade and refusing to let his wife out of the home, said Maj. Bob Rost of the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department.

Rost said Moore stood in a doorway with the knife behind his back, blocking his wife from leaving. Moore came at officers who told him to drop the knife, and when he didn't comply, they jolted him with a Taser and subdued him, the major said.

Rost said Moore's wife, who had been staying elsewhere, was at the home to get clothes. "Once she's inside, he says, 'Now you're not leaving,'" Rost said.

He said the couple's daughter, who was outside in a vehicle, called authorities and told them her mom was being held in the house at 3306 Fifth Ave. N.E., which sits about two miles east of Northwood on state Highway 15.

Rost said law enforcement had been called to the house on "numerous occasions." On this call, though, officers reportedly discovered the makings for meth.

"It was sitting right in front of everybody -- in the house, outside, everywhere," Rost said. "He's got all these containers all over the place."

Property search

Agents with the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force searched the home and found evidence of meth production, including containers of Coleman fuel, empty packages of pseudoephedrine, lithium batteries and cans of starting fluid, an agent's report says. Moore is also accused of having light bulbs that were modified to be used as meth pipes and strips of aluminum foil used for consuming meth, according to a criminal complaint.

The agent's report says a search of Moore's vehicle revealed an active meth lab, consisting of ground-up pseudoephedrine tablets being separated in a solvent. Plastic tubing, lithium batteries, funnels, baggies and cans of starting fluid were also found in the vehicle, the report says.

In a small shed on the property and in an adjacent grove of trees, agents discovered more meth ingredients, including tanks of anhydrous ammonia, the report states.

Rost said some meth was seized, but did not specify the amount.

He said authorities had suspicions about activities at the home for some time, but that Moore was not the subject of an investigation before Wednesday. The investigation is ongoing, but no other arrests are expected in the case, Rost said.

Potential hazard

Rost said the task force and the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation finished cleaning the scene Thursday morning. He said officials used protective suits during the cleanup because of the hazardous materials involved in making meth. A message left for the BCI agent in charge of the task force was not returned Thursday.

Rost said the sheriff's department and other agencies, possibly the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will follow up to see if any chemicals contaminated the area. He said no neighbors live right next to the property.

"There may be environmental-hazard issues, and those issues are being dealt with," he said.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, every pound of meth made can produce up to five pounds of toxic waste. The cost of cleaning up a lab runs from $2,000 to $3,000, but that estimate doesn't include possible property damage or reduced property value, the Web site says.

Moore is charged with making meth, possessing drug paraphernalia, terrorizing and felonious restraint. Via interactive television Thursday, Moore made an initial court appearance without an attorney. He told the judge he's lived at his house for 20 years and works as a trucker.

Prosecutor David Jones told the judge Moore does not have a significant criminal record. Jones said it's believed that chemical-dependency and mental-health issues contributed to the domestic disturbance.

Moore's bail was set at $17,500. A message left for him at the Grand Forks County jail was not returned Thursday. He remained in custody as of Thursday evening.

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