Traffic stop leads to three arrests

NEW CUMBERLAND – What began as a traffic stop for a seat belt violation on Friday night ended with the arrests of three men in connection with the manufacture of methamphetamine.

A Chevrolet HHR driven by Gregory Birden of New Cumberland, was stopped on state Route 2 in New Cumberland near Resco Products for not wearing his seat belt. The smell of marijuana within the vehicle led to a search of the vehicle, which turned up a “shake-and-bake” mobile meth lab in the trunk, as well as the chemical ingredients needed to make more of the drug.

Birden was arrested and charged with the purchase, receipt, acquisition and possession of substances to be used as a precursor to the manufacture of meth, as well as possession of marijuana, driving with a suspended license and no seat belt.

According to New Cumberland Police Chief Lester Skinner, information obtained during that arrest pointed to a pair of residences in New Cumberland, which has been under investigation for a while. “Through interviewing and an investigation we’d already opened, we had enough information to gain search warrants for two apartments,” Skinner said.

New Cumberland Police, along with personnel from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, West Virginia State Police, Weirton-Brooke-Hancock Drug Task Force, and New Cumberland fire and ambulance units, converged on an apartment at 907 N. Chester St., the home of J. Edward Kinzie.

A similar bottle meth lab was found in a refrigerator freezer in the apartment kitchen. “We found all the components necessary for the making of methamphetamine,” Skinner said. Also discovered were a pistol and rifle, with no violations attached to either.

Kinzie was charged with manufacture of meth and taken into custody. Joel Thomas Shaffer and David John Duffy, both from New Cumberland, were in the apartment with Kinzie, and were also charged with meth manufacture.

According to Skinner, Birden has a significant criminal history and was on probation for federal charges. “He’s probably going to be sent away for a good long while even before he does our time,” he said.

Police also searched Shaffer’s residence at 614 Doyles Alley, where nothing criminal was discovered.

Skinner says his department had received multiple tips from people in the community, which were passed on to the drug task force, who set up surveillance. “The system actually worked the way way you explain it to people,” he said.