John Mangalonzo, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –
A meth cook, who was shot by local narcotics agents during a raid of his mom-and-pop drug operation in Wever in 2010, will not be near a makeshift laboratory for quite some time.
Earl William Freeman, 52, whose last known address was in Fort Madison, was sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison for conspiracy to manufacture meth.
A federal judge also ordered Freeman to serve 10 years of supervised release following his incarceration.
A fellow cook involved in the illicit operation, Charles Wayne Allen, 42, of Burlington, is serving 13 years in federal lockup, also for conspiracy to manufacture meth.
In the winter of 2010, agents from the Southeast Iowa Narcotics Task Force arranged to buy meth from Allen.
Soon after he arrived at the location, police seized 8.57 grams of the substance and 192 pseudoephedrine pills from the man.
During the course of the investigation, authorities found out Allen was supplying pseudoephedrine to Freeman. Authorities said Allen got money and meth for the pills.
Task force agents and their Lee County counterparts were conducting an investigation regarding Freeman’s meth lab in the 1900 block of 355th Avenue outside Wever in March 2010.
Shortly after they arrived at the location, Freeman, who was in possession of an anhydrous tank, confronted the agents and sprayed them with the substance.
Burlington Police Det. Chris Chiprez and Kevin Glendening, a deputy for the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office, fired their weapons, hitting Freeman in the chest and leg.
Chiprez and Glendening were taken to Great River Medical Center, where they received treatment.
Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can cause burning eyes, nose and throat after breathing even small amounts. Exposure to high levels of anhydrous ammonia can cause death from a swollen throat or from chemical burns to the lungs.
Freeman was taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City for treatment of his injuries.
Lee County Attorney Michael Short ruled the shooting justified, saying the officers “were returning fire to a deadly threat.”
The investigation indicated the tank containing the anhydrous ammonia was an altered LP tank, which normally is used on outdoor grills.
Anhydrous ammonia, a nitrogen fertilizer, is one of the key ingredients in the production of methamphetamine.
In 1997, Freeman was sentenced in Lee County to three consecutive 10-year prison terms for drug manufacturing offenses.
In 2002 – it’s unclear when he was paroled from his Lee County case – he was convicted of serious drug charges in Polk County and received more prison time.