Mineral Wells man arrested on drug charge

PARKERSBURG – Officers discovered a meth lab after noticing smoke coming from a wooded area on Mason Street Thursday afternoon, officials said.

James Paul Cox, 33, of Mineral Wells was arrested Thursday afternoon at 420 Mason St. on a felony charge of operating or attempting to operate a clandestine methamphetamine lab, said Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin.

Cox was arraigned before Wood County Magistrate Brenda Marshall at 10 p.m. Thursday. He was arraigned on his felony charge of operating or attempting to operate a clandestine methamphetamine lab, and failed to post a bond of $25,000.

At about 2:10 p.m., detectives from the Parkersburg Police Department noticed smoke coming from the woods near 420 Mason St., said Martin.

When detectives approached the area, they encountered a man walking in the direction of the smoke, Martin said. The detectives investigated the smoke and initially thought it was a pile of building materials on fire, he said.

When Cox approached the detectives and the burning debris, the detectives told him they were investigating the smoke and wanted to know its cause, Martin said.

Cox offered to go into this residence and retrieve water to extinguish the fire with, Martin said.

At this time, the detectives noticed items in the area which were commonly used in the manufacture of meth, Martin said. They discovered plastic bottles that appeared to have been used as reaction vessels near the site of the fire, Martin said. They also located one bottle containing an active reaction, Martin said.

The style of meth manufacturing equipment found is commonly called “one pot method,” because the entire reaction takes place in the one pot, Martin said.

Detectives investigated and discovered that Cox had recently purchased pseudoephedrine on three occasions in May, Martin said.

Cox was arrested shortly after he was questioned about the purchases and the bottles found near the fire, Martin said.

The Parkersburg Police Department and the Parkersburg Violent Crime and Narcotics Task Force obtained a warrant to search the inside of Cox’s Mason Street home, Martin said. Investigators located suspected meth and items used in the making of meth inside the home, he said.

The lab was neutralized and processed for evidence collection.