Sheriff: 16+ Meth Arrests All Linked to One “Cook” in Chippewa County

16 people have been arrested by TRIDENT detectives following busts at meth labs across Chippewa County.

Those charged include:

James Russell McCoy
Travis Michael Bowerman
Sara Margaret Bowerman
Jay Allen Tazelaar
Aaron Jay Endresen
Chelsie Catherine Dukes
Michael Frances Badger
Augusta Marie Vanvolkenburg
Chenoa Lynn Burr
Harley Marie Fournier
Jessica Nicole Richards
Dillon Michael Aikens
Christopher James Crusoe Sr.
Cheyenne Sky Bowen
Robert Michael Cooper

Chippewa County Sheriff Mike Bitnar says several more arrests are expected.

All 16 people are charged with meth-related crimes, stemming from investigations that began back in June, but police say these suspects are all connected by one man.

“The cook of the meth labs lived in Kinross and that’s where the search warrants took place,” Bitnar, said.

Back in June, TRIDENT detectives raided a home in Kinross, that’s when police first arrested Joseph David Beairl.

“For a meth lab you need somebody who they call the cook or who has learned how to manufacture and those are limited people,” Bitnar, said.

Police say Beairl is the cook, and the rest of the suspects helped out.

“If the cook went and bought all that at once it would be kind of suspicious so what the cooks do is they either pay all these other people to go buy the Sudafed or all the other products needed to come together,” Bitnar, explained.

Beairl was released on bond following his first arrest.

“He was out awaiting his trial in the meantime, TRIDENT got some more information, started investigating another ring of meth labs with him being the cook again,” Bitnar, added.

Police say they found the latest meth lab earlier this month at a motel/apartment on Portage Avenue in Sault Ste. Marie. The home is just a stone’s throw away from city hall, and across the street from a Catholic Church and school.

9&10 News spoke with a neighbor who was home at the time of the raid, she says the whole situation was terrifying.

“I’m in a panic and I’m standing next to the other wall over here, because I’ve heard of meth labs blowing up,” she recalled.

Sheriff Bitnar says the amount of meth labs they are seeing in the area has gone down significantly in the past few years.

“The key is to get these cooks and the people who know how to make it arrested as soon as possible,” Bitnar, said.

Beairl is now behind bars and will be back in court later this month.