Conservation Law Enforcement Corner December 2017

Meth Bust On Lake Lanier

GON Staff | December 1, 2017

This column is designed to highlight the efforts of Georgia dNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) officers who, among their many duties, protect Georgia’s wildlife, sportsmen and natural resources from game-law violators.

At about 11:20 p.m. on the night of June 30, 2015, DNR Law Enforcement Division Cpl. Eddie Tompkins received a call from Sgt. Josh Watson of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Of ce asking for assistance in  finding a boat on Lake Lanier. The boat belonged to Cohen Motes, of Gainesville, who had been under investigation for selling methamphetamine on Lake Lanier. An officer had located Mr. Motes’ truck at Lanier Point Park boat ramp in Hall County, and they believed he was on a small Bass Buggy pontoon.

Within about 30 minutes, Cpl. Tompkins and Ranger Shane Brown were in their DNR patrol boat and met Forsyth County and Hall County Sheriff’s officers who were on boats just north of Chestatee Bay.

“We split up and covered the channels to observe vessel traffic approaching the boat ramp where Mr. Motes’ truck and trailer were located. Ranger Brown and I observed a vessel drifting in a cove just south of Lanier Point Park. I observed three persons onboard through night- vision optics sitting near the stern of the vessel with  fishing poles set out around the vessel. The vessel was a pontoon boat that matched the description provided by Sgt. Watson.

“Ranger Brown and I approached the vessel at approximately 0250 hours (2:50 a.m.). As we approached, we observed the stern light was not properly displayed. We activated our blue lights and illuminated the persons on the pontoon boat. Once alongside the vessel, the three male subjects—later identified as Motes, David Poole, of Braselton, and David Chandler, of Gainesville—began looking for their  fishing licenses. Mr. Poole stated he did not have a fishing license on him, but we would have to look him up on the computer. Mr. Poole then states, ‘I gotta gun on me, too. I got my license.’ The gun was a Kel-Tec 32 semi-auto pistol. Ranger Brown and I advised Mr. Poole that he was on federal waters and that he was not supposed to have a  rearm even with a permit.”

Editor’s Note: According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, “Georgia’s House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, does not affect lakes and lands in Georgia managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Corps managed property is regulated by the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, part 327. Regulations governing possession of  rearms specify that possession of loaded  rearms, ammunition or loaded projectile  ring devices is prohibited unless in the possession of federal, state or local law enforcement officers, or when being used in compliance with hunting regulations.”

In his incident report, Cpl. Tompkins said, “I observed that Mr. Chandler appeared to be displaying the common mannerisms of a person under the influence of methamphetamine. He was jerking uncontrollably, commonly known as tweaking, and sweating heavily. I had Ranger Brown call Sgt. Watson and have them en route to our location. I asked if their were any illegal drugs on the vessel, and Mr. Motes answered, ‘No.’ I asked Mr. Motes since he was the person responsible for the vessel if he would give us consent to search the vessel. Mr. Motes stated, ‘Yeah I mind. I don’t want you going through my stuff.’”

At approximately 3 a.m., Deputy Alan Seabolt arrived in his patrol boat along with Forsyth County K-9 Officer Brian Chatham, who explained that he was going to put his dog on the boat.

“I asked that each of them secure a PFD to their person and step over into my patrol vessel when the K-9 was completing his search. While retrieving PFDs, Mr. Motes reaches into the console of the vessel and quickly removes an orange- and-black backpack and throws it into the water. I boarded the pontoon boat and placed Mr. Motes under arrest for littering and tampering with evidence. Deputy Seabolt threw a marker buoy into the water where the bag went in, and Ranger Brown created a waypoint on his GPS. While completing a search of Mr. Motes’ person, Ranger Brown located a large amount of U.S. currency ($3,920). During the search of the vessel, I located a glass pipe commonly used for smoking methamphetamine with residue inside. It was between the seat and the stern of the vessel where all the subjects were sitting upon our arrival.”

The Hall County Dive Team was contacted, and they soon found the back- pack on the bottom of the lake. A S&W .45 semi-auto pistol was found in the backpack, later determined to be a gun reported stolen in Hall County in 2010. GBI lab testing confirmed methamphetamine residue on some of the items recovered.

According to Superior Court records, Cohen Motes entered a negotiated plea for possession of methamphetamine and obstruction of an officer. Cohen was sentenced to six months to serve plus two years and six months on probation. Motes was  ned a total of $1,800 plus court costs.

David Chandler entered a negotiated plea for possession of methamphetamine and possession of a drug object and was sentenced under  first-offender status to three months to serve plus two years and nine months on probation. Chander was  fined a total of $3,550 plus court costs.

David Poole entered a negotiated plea for possession of methamphetamine and was sentenced under first-offender status to three years on probation. Poole was  ned $2,675 plus court costs.

To report violations, call the Ranger Hotline at (800) 241-4113 or *DNR for ATT Customers.

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