Three men were arrested on meth charges after the Sioux Falls Dug Task Force Officers seized almost 2,000 pills of pseudoephedrine—a common meth-making component—during a drug bust Thursday evening.
At 6:30pm Thursday, a search warrant was executed at a home at 816 North French Avenue in Sioux Falls. Lester Estenson, Andrew Weaver and Michael Voyles were arrested after the search.
Sioux Falls Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said 1,943 pseudoephedrine pills were found during the search. Clemens said he has never seen this many pseudoephedrine pills in one bust.
"I think it shows they had intent to make some more in the near future," Clemens said.
143.2 grams of meth, 148.2 grams of marijuana, .7 grams of cocaine and $1,020 were seized in the search.
Pseudoephedrine is one of the main components in meth, but in recent years laws have been passed to limit who can purchase pseudoephedrine and how much. Clemens said most people are familiar with showing identification and signing the book when buying medicine with pseudoephedrine in it. He said it is a law that has worked well.
"That law's been pretty effective of reducing the amount of pseudoephedrine that has been involved or to be available for people to manufacture meth," Clemens said. "Obviously there's ways around that system. To compile that many pills is pretty substantial."
However, Clemens said recent laws inhibiting meth making have led to increased recognition of cocaine, another controlled substance found in Estenson's home. Clemens said officers usually come across a small amount of cocaine during a drug arrest or drug bust. While it is not one of the bigger drugs, Clemens said cocaine use has seen resurgence in the region because of pseudoephedrine laws.
"It was harder for people to manufacture meth, and so because of that we started to see somewhat of a rise in cocaine use. We've seen a little bit of that here in Sioux Falls, but we haven't seen a huge amount," Clemens said.
Lester Estenson, 63, who lives in the home was arrested on two counts of possession of a controlled substance—one for meth and another for cocaine. Estenson is also facing charges for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, maintaining a place where drugs were kept, possession of marijuana—2 oz. to ½ pound, possession with intent to distribute—1 oz. to ½ pound, and possession of paraphernalia. Estenson is also facing a charge of violating a drug free zone because his residence is within 1,000 feet of Joe Foss Alternative School.
Andrew Weaver, 37, was staying with Estenson and was charged with inhabiting a place where drugs are kept. The second man staying with Estenson, 42-year-old Michael Voyles is charged with possession of a controlled substance—meth, possession of paraphernalia and inhabiting a place where drugs were kept.
Clemens did not have details on whether a tip or an investigation led up to Thursday night's arrests. He did mention the investigation is ongoing and more arrests could be made.
"Putting that information on the press release, it leaves me to think that detectives have a good idea of who else is involved," Clemens said. "It's just a matter of finding them."
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