CLEARLAKE OAKS- LAKE COUNTY – Robert Russell McDarment takes his home-based business seriously. Unfortunately for him, the Lake County Narcotics Task Force does as well.
McDarment’s business is apparently selling methamphetamine, but he goes beyond the typical seller. In an attempt to increase his profits, he has been adding methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) to the meth to extend the quantity and thereby increase his inventory. MSM is a dietary supplement, but when heated with a torch, it will crystalize and resemble meth. It can then be mixed in with the real thing.
He was also concerned with protecting his operation. Steve Brooks of the Lake Sheriff’s Office stated that McDarment had set up a large surveillance monitor in the master bedroom of his home, which is located in the Clearlake Keys property development, and backs up to one of the many canals that run through the neighborhood. The monitor shows views from four external cameras mounted around the house. This command center also featured a police scanner set to pick up the Lake Sheriff’s dispatches and communications. A floor mounted safe in the bedroom held a pair of revolvers with ammunition for security. It also held 24 grams of methamphetamine, 46 grams of marijuana, 2 hydrocodone pills, a glass meth pipe, and two digital scales (for grams and ounces.)
The 31-year-old McDarment, a convicted felon, seemed to know his business well. However, he did not escape notice of the Narcotics Detectives, who secured a search warrant for him, his house and vehicle on January 31. They served the warrant on Friday, February 7 at 9:45 pm. Perhaps he was not monitoring his video surveillance or his police scanner, because he was found at home and detained without incident. But there was also a house full of young kids – five children under the age of 10 were living there with McDarment and his wife in the small home. McDarment told the detectives that he had no drugs or weapons in the home, but when they searched the bedroom, they found a baggie of meth in a dresser drawer.
McDarment actually asked the detectives to test out the crystal substance, perhaps believing that his MSM cutting process would make it appear to be something other than meth, but the chemical test showed a positive.
After taking note of the surveillance system there in the bedroom, the detectives asked McDarment to open the safe. He said he not only didn’t know the combination, he had no idea what was inside. The detectives proceeded to pry it open with a crowbar, and McDarment relented and opened the door before they broke it, revealing the guns and drugs hidden inside. It was then McDarment explained his process for stretching out his product, and explained that he was just selling the drugs to pay his bills.
He was arrested and booked at the Hill Road correctional facility on charges of possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession while armed, being a felon in possession of firearms and ammo, and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. The detectives also requested the District Attorney to review the case for the addition of child endangerment, since some of the meth was in easy reach of his kids. His wife Jacqui was not mentioned in the complaint and was presumably left to care for the children at the house.
Images: Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Facebook, Google Maps