Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Prison Sentence:
Refuge Garbage Dump Site Leads to Federal Prison Time

Our federal wildlife officers are responsible for keeping law and order on national wildlife refuge lands across the region - regardless of how large or small, remote or urban. While there are many successes to highlight in this effort, one notable case at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge came to a close recently.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen R. Wigginton announced that a man from Johnson County, Illinois was sentenced to federal prison on methamphetamine charges on April 29, 2015. While this investigation was conducted by the Illinois State Police and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jointly, it started with the keen eye of Federal Wildlife Officer Kurt Campbell as he patrolled the refuge.

As Campbell’s job title infers, our officers are the front line in conservation-focused law enforcement, but they do so much more. What you may not know is that our officers also are charged with keeping people safe on our federal lands, through what would best be classified as traditional police work – stopping illegal use of drugs and alcohol, defusing domestic disputes and providing safe harbor for lost or missing children. In this case, what appeared to be a simple garbage dump site turned out to be part of a mobile meth lab.

Robert D. Brewer, 49, of Vienna, Illinois, was sentenced to 78 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and fined $300. Brewer had previously pleaded guilty to six counts in a federal indictment. Counts 2, 3, 6, and 7 charged Brewer with possession of pseudoephedrine, knowing it would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, methamphetamine, on February 20, 2013 and later, on multiple dates in April, 2013. Counts 4 and 5 charged Brewer with attempted possession of pseudoephedrine, knowing it would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, methamphetamine, on April 16 and 18, 2013.

While on patrol in February of 2013, Officer Campbell observed multiple trash bags dumped alongside a wood line of the refuge near a road. He quickly realized that the refuge garbage was in fact a methamphetamine dump site. The process of "cooking" methamphetamine can be dangerous as it involves poisonous, flammable, and explosive chemicals.

Being trained in these dangers, Officer Campbell took extra precaution when he spotted indicators, such as the strong smell of chemicals and multiple soda bottles with plastic tubing protruding through the bottle caps. Officer Campbell put his first responder law enforcement training into use immediately by staying up wind to the toxic chemicals, securing the scene and calling for additional assistance from other federal wildlife officers and the Illinois State Police Drug Task Force. With the assistance of an Illinois state police agent with specialized training in methamphetamine cleanup, the officers started to sort through the dump site to look for evidence. While doing so, multiple receipts were found leading to a possible suspect. The dump site was inventoried and cleaned up.

This is all in a day’s work, “Law Enforcement will go the extra mile to dig through trash, find evidence, and charge suspects who choose to trash our great lands,” said Officer Campbell.

In May 2013, Officer Campbell participated with Illinois State Police Drug Task Force in interviewing the suspect. Later in February, 2014, a federal arrest warrant was issued and executed on the suspect.

This investigation involved several law enforcement agencies in addition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We would like to recognize and thank officers from the Illinois State Police, U.S. Marshals Service, Vienna Police, and Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney George Norwood.

By Tina Shaw
Regional Office - External Affairs

Federal Wildlife Officer Kurt Campbell with meth lab evidence. Photo by USFWS.

Federal Wildlife Officer Kurt Campbell with meth lab evidence. Photo by USFWS.

 

 

Last updated: June 4, 2015