Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jul 2005
Source: Fort Pierce Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2005 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Derek Simmonsen, staff writer
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


FORT PIERCE -- It began with anonymous letters sent to Port St. Lucie 
detectives, saying methamphetamine was being made and sold out of an area home.

It ended months later with federal agents seizing high-end laboratory 
equipment, a book on how to run a "clandestine drug laboratory" and 
hundreds of pseudoephedrine tablets used in making meth.

During a bail hearing Wednesday, prosecutors laid out more evidence against 
Melissa Marie Hoffpauir, 25, who faces federal charges of attempting to 
make methamphetamine, possession of pseudoephedrine with intent to make 
meth, possession with intent to distribute meth and two counts of 
possessing a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.

After listening to evidence, U.S. Magistrate Frank Lynch Jr. ordered her 
held without bail because she posed a flight risk and a danger to the 
community, he said.

"The case against Ms. Hoffpauir is based on strong evidence," said 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim McAdams, who is prosecuting the case.

Port St. Lucie detectives received anonymous letters saying Hoffpauir was 
selling and later manufacturing meth, and received an additional phone tip 
through Treasure Coast CrimeStoppers, McAdams said. Though detectives did 
conduct surveillance on the house, they did not see any outward signs of a 
laboratory, he said.

It was a separate investigation into credit card fraud that enabled them to 
get a warrant for Hoffpauir's home, which was served on July 5. She 
allegedly told police she had cocaine, meth and guns inside the home, but 
denied she was running a lab, McAdams said.

During a search of the Southwest Endicott Street home and a neighboring 
Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer, agents found handguns, 
portable heat sources, laboratory-quality glassware and a book in a bedroom 
called "The Construction and Operation of Clandestine Drug Laboratories," 
which McAdams said was a first for him as a federal prosecutor.

Other normal household items, such as matchbooks and cold tablets 
containing pseudoephedrine, were found in large quantities, indicating meth 
was being made out of the home, he said. Two men were home at the time with 
Hoffpauir and one was arrested on a cocaine possession charge, though no 
federal charges were filed against the men.

The anonymous tipsters have not been identified and no controlled drug buys 
were made out of the home, according to testimony during the hearing. Lynch 
ordered Hoffpauir be held at a Miami facility while awaiting trial after 
her public defender told him about a potentially life-threatening blood 
disorder she has been diagnosed with.

If convicted of all charges, she faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and 
fines totaling $5 million. She has pleaded innocent to the charges.

It was the third meth lab found in the city since December and all three 
cases have gone to the federal level. In both prior cases, the defendants 
pleaded guilty to charges and have either been sentenced or are awaiting 
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