Three suspects arrested in methamphetamine bust

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | 2:14 p.m. CST; updated 11:07 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 11, 2009

COLUMBIA — Sheriff's deputies arrested two Columbia residents and a Callaway County man Wednesday morning in connection with methamphetamine production, said Detective Sgt. Britt Shea of the Boone County Sheriff's Department.

Ernest Helsel, 41, and Stacey Helsel, 37, both of Columbia, were arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine. Michael Hinsa, 38, of Callaway County, was arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, Shea said.

The arrests came after two search warrants were served simultaneously by Boone County and Callaway County deputies on Wednesday morning. Ernest and Stacey Helsel were arrested at their home at 10225 I-70 Drive NE in Boone County. Hinsa was arrested at his home at 1902 Old Highway 40 in Callaway County.

The warrants resulted from a year-long investigation into the activities of a group of people operating methamphetamine manufacturing, Shea said. The investigation was a cooperative effort of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, the Callaway County Sheriff’s Department and the Mid-Missouri Unified Strike Team and Narcotics Drug Group (MUSTANG) Drug Task Force, Shea said. The MUSTANG Drug Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional task force used to facilitate investigations  across county lines.

“We have known about Ernest and Stacey Helsel in Boone County for the past year,” Shea said. “We have gotten a steady stream of information, whether it was buying pills or people coming and going from their house.”

Shea said the two arrests Wednesday morning occurred a few miles apart along the outer road of I-70, but they were across county lines. He said the two cases are “definitely connected.”

Evidence found at the scenes included components of a methamphetamine lab and finished methamphetamine, Shea said.

As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, Ernest and Stacey Helsel were both in custody at the Boone County Jail for possession of a controlled substance with bonds set for $5,000 and $4,500, respectively.

Michael Hinsa was in custody at the Callaway County Jail as of 1 p.m. Wednesday for possession of a controlled substance, possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana and attempting to manufacture a controlled substance. His bond was set for $60,000, according to the jail.

From here, Shea said they will continue to investigate the three suspects and those associated with them.

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