A Columbia Falls couple face up to 40 years in prison and a $25,000 fine after they were charged with operation of a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory.
Jonathan Kemppainen, 35, and his wife Rachel Kemppainen, 37, were arrested May 30 after Northwest Drug Task Force agents discovered evidence of a meth lab on Jonathan’s parents’ property on River Road in Columbia Falls.
According to court documents, investigators had learned May 16 that two meth labs were operating in the Flathead. The agents looked into sales of pseudoephedrine, a meth precursor, at several local pharmacies and discovered numerous alleged purchases by the Kemppainens.
The agents later learned from a confidential informant that Jonathan was making meth in a dog kennel on his parents’ property using the “one pot” method. But it was retrieval of a stolen motor vehicle that led agents directly to the River Road property.
The Kemppainens lived in a trailer on the property, and Jonathan was present when the agents arrived. After his parents OK’d a search of the dog kennel, Jonathan asked if he could remove something from the kennel first. When the agents said no, he took off on a bicycle.
The agents reported finding a backpack in the kennel containing items consistent with meth manufacturing. They stopped the search and obtained a search warrant for the kennel and the Kemppainens’ trailer.
Allegedly uncovered in the subsequent search were empty pseudoephedrine blister packs, empty lithium battery cases, a bottle with a plastic tube that could have been used as a hydrogen chloride generator, coffee filters, salt, Drano and other items found at meth labs.
After Rachel was located, arrested and Mirandized, she allegedly agreed to speak without an attorney present and admitted purchasing pseudoephedrine and giving it to her husband and Christin Stordalen for making meth.
Rachel was released on informal house arrest to a residence in Columbia Falls on June 13. Jonathan is being held in the Flathead County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond. He also faces a warrant from another jurisdiction and a charge of criminal contempt. The couple will be arraigned on June 20.
Stordalen, 28, of Columbia Falls, was arrested after Northwest Drug Task Force agents learned from a confidential informant that he was making meth by the “one pot shake and bake” method and burning all the evidence left after cooking. The agents also learned that Stordalen lived on Columbia Mountain Road with his girlfriend Mysterie Callihan, 34, and her two daughters, 15 and 11 years old.
When the agents obtained a search warrant and entered the home, Stordalen was allegedly leaving the bathroom and the toilet was flushing. Two plastic baggies with a white substance that later field-tested positive for meth were allegedly found floating in the toilet.
Bruce Bergeson, who had an outstanding warrant, was apprehended exiting the back door. Heather Faller, AKA Heather Piland, 39, of Columbia Falls, who also had an outstanding warrant, was apprehended in a vehicle parked in the driveway.
Inside the house, the agents allegedly found a digital scale, pseudoephedrine, jars of chemicals, lithium, a gas generator, fertilizer pellets, used coffee filters, meth pipes and snort tubes, and baggies containing a substance that later tested positive for meth. They also allegedly found marijuana and meth in Faller’s vehicle.
Stordalen faces felony charges of operating a clandestine lab and criminal possession with intent to distribute. He faces up to 50 years and a $50,000 fine for the first count because children under 18 were present where the meth lab allegedly was operating. He pleaded not guilty on June 13 and was released after posting a $40,000 bond.
Callihan faces the same charges as Stordalen. Her bond was set at $20,000. She pleaded not guilty on June 13 and was still in the county jail on June 18. Faller was charged with felony and misdemeanor charges of possession of dangerous drugs and faces up to five years and a $50,000 fine. She pleaded not guilty on June 13 and has been released. As of June 18, Bergeson did not face any charges related to the Columbia Mountain Road bust.