COLUMBIA — A Columbia man was arrested early Tuesday morning in north Columbia on suspicion of possession of methamphetamines and a stolen gun, among other items.
A Boone County Sheriff's Department deputy responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle at 12:23 a.m. on the 5300 block of North O'Neal Road from a resident who lived nearby, Detective Tom O'Sullivan said.
Two men were in a white Ford Expedition with a trailer, O'Sullivan said. When the deputy approached the vehicle, the two began throwing the meth out the windows so the deputy would not find it, he said.
A "relatively small amount" of meth was found along with marijuana, prescription pills, a pipe, scales and a large amount of cash, according to a sheriff's department news release. The deputy also confiscated a loaded handgun that was stolen from somewhere in Columbia, O'Sullivan said.
Victor Hugo Mendoza, 30, was arrested on suspicion of distribution of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana.
His bond is set at $18,500, excluding the bond for distribution of a controlled substance, which will be set by a judge at a later date.
The man who was with Mendoza was not arrested because there was not enough evidence that the drugs and gun belonged to him, O'Sullivan said.
Mendoza has been arrested 13 times in the past three years for charges including Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), theft and possession of a controlled substance, O'Sullivan said.
"This ain't his first trip to the rodeo," O'Sullivan said.
The arrest was the third meth-related incident in Columbia in the past four weeks.
On Oct. 11, the Sheriff's Department seized meth while serving a search warrant at a home, according to a news release from the department. On Sept. 26, deputies seized more meth in a similar search, according to previous Missourian reporting. No arrests were made during either search.
Seven meth incidents occurred in Boone County between January and June this year, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol website. An incident is defined as the seizure of chemicals or equipment or the discovery of manufacturing locations or sites where byproducts are dumped.
With 888 incidents in that time frame, the state of Missouri had the second-highest number of meth incidents in the nation, second only to Indiana, which had 956.
"It's always been a problem," O'Sullivan said. "Meth is something we really focus on — it's a high priority. It's all over the place out there."
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