Pair Caught With Too Many Cold Tabs

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Repeat shopping trips into Payson businesses landed two Phoenix men in jail Wednesday night.

The men, 32-year-old Frank Joe Powell and 35-year-old Alex Harold Smoot, were booked into Gila County jail on charges of possession of precursor chemicals and misconduct involving weapons.

The arrest took place in the Wal-Mart parking lot around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, after the store's employees realized the two were making a third trip into the store to buy pseudoephedrine.

Pseudoephedrine as found in over-the-counter cold medications is one of the primary ingredients in the manufacturing of methamphetamines.

"When it was discovered, they called the police department and we caught up with the vehicle," an undercover agent with the Gila County Narcotics Task Force said. "When we contacted the suspects, they were sitting in their vehicle, popping the pills out into another container."

Inside the vehicle, officers found shopping bags filled with about 20 boxes of the cold tabs, purchased that evening at Wal-Mart and Walgreens in Payson.

"They were touring the state," the agent said. "That's generally what they'll do. They'll get out of their home territory, tour the state where they're not known, purchase their cold tabs and go back to their territory and cook."

The agent said the suspects were booked into custody. His office will contact the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area's task force to investigate if the men had a meth lab operation somewhere in the Phoenix area.

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