6 Arrested in Mills Meth Bust, 8 Children in Protective Custody
Six people were charged with multiple drug-related crimes after law enforcement raided a house with eight children in Mills on Sunday morning, according to the charges filed by the Natrona County District Attorney's Office.
Most of them heard the charges against them during their initial appearances in Natrona County Circuit Court on Monday.
The lead defendant is Cherica Apodaca, 38, who was charged with three felony counts of child endangerment with methamphetamine -- each count punishable by up to five years imprisonment; one count of possessing a felony amount of the drug -- punishable by up to seven years imprisonment; and one count of possession of a controlled substance with this being the third or more subsequent offense -- punishable by up to five years imprisonment.
"Apodaca denied all blame stating she had no idea such drug use was occurring and that she was unaware there were that many people in the house," she told officers before being taken to the county jail.
During her initial appearance, Assistant District Attorney Mike Blonigen told Judge Michael Patchen that Apodaca had previous methamphetamine-related convictions, and there were "needles all over the house."
Blonigen recommended, and Patchen agreed, to set her bond at $15,000 cash or surety.
She and the other defendants charged with felonies will have their preliminary hearings within a couple of weeks to determine whether their cases will be bound over to Natrona County District Court for trial.
The affidavit of probable cause said Mills and Casper police officers, and officers with the state probation and parole office responded to Apodaca's mobile home in Mills because she was violating terms of her probation.
When they arrived, a young man opened the door and said Apodaca was in the rear bedroom. They also contacted six children in the front living room and others elsewhere.
One officer went to the back bedroom door and identified himself, while another officer saw shadows moving rapidly under the door, then heard a window being opened and what sounded several people moving.
Other officers saw a man, later identified as Tyler McDaniel, jump from a side window and take off running and before being apprehended about 100 yards away.
Besides Apodaca, officers contacted four of the named defendants and several others in her bedroom. Two individuals were removed from the bathroom and two others were removed from underneath the bed where they were trying to hide. All were placed in handcuffs.
The officers began identifying the individuals, some of whom were not honest about their names. Most were on probation and had drugs in their pockets, according to the affidavit.
After the adults were identified, officers began to identify the children.
Officers also identified two individuals 18 or older, and saw three dogs and at least one cat.
Officers found drugs, paraphernalia, and used needles throughout the residence, including some near where the children were sleeping.
She also kept children's property in her room where most of the drugs were found.
The Department of Family Services responded to the scene. Law enforcement transferred the children to DFS.
According to the affidavit, others charged are:
- Roderick Barnes of Riverton, 26 -- Misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance - methamphetamine; interference.
- Cody Bennett -- possession of a controlled substance - marijuana.
- Fabian Kamai, 30 -- One count of possession of a controlled substance - methamphetamine, with this being the third or more subsequent offense. He was one of the two individuals trying to hide under the bed.
- Kyla Lawson, 29 -- Hold for probation and parole after signing statement that she had been using marijuana and methamphetamine.
- Tyler McDaniel, 23 -- One misdemeanor count of interference and a probation hold.
Law enforcement also requested warrants for Domenic Potenzieri and Crystal Wirtala who were at the house and initially released, according to the charging document.