01/04/2001

Owner of rolling meth lab jumps
into river to avoid officers
[Fife, WA]

Stefano Esposito, The News Tribune
December 25, 2000, Monday
Copyright 2000 The News Tribune
The News Tribune
December 25, 2000, Monday

(FIFE, Wash.) -- A man suspected of operating a methamphetamine lab in the back of his van jumped into the Puyallup River in Fife to avoid police Saturday night.

Events unfolded about 10 p.m. when Fife police, making a traffic stop, stopped a van on North Levee Road, police reports say.

The driver got out of the van and began speaking with police. Police then went over to the van to chat with the passenger. At that point, an officer noticed a strong chemical smell and saw a suspected methamphetamine lab in the back of the van, reports say.

The driver of the van ran away and jumped into the river.

Meanwhile, the passenger was arrested after police found "numerous forged checks and components for making false identification cards," according to police reports.

Investigators closed North Levee Road and diverted traffic for more than two hours while police dismantled the portable lab.

Officers from Fife, Milton, Pierce County, the Washington State Patrol and a Pierce County sheriff's dog unit searched for the driver of the van in the river, but couldn't find him.

But it didn't take long to put the driver behind bars. After swimming downstream, the man ran to a friend's house. The friend then called 911 to turn in the driver, reports say.

Police booked the driver into Pierce County Jail on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine.

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