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Indiana man accused of operating meth lab at nature preserve

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 6:45 pm

MUNCIE — A man living with his family at a former Girl Scout camp that is now a nature preserve faces charges alleging that he operated a methamphetamine lab at the central Indiana site.

James Kevin Dalton, 54, was arrested last week at the Red-tail Conservancy's Munsee Woods property southeast of Muncie. Dalton remained jailed without bond at the Delaware County on Thursday, two days after he was charged with dealing in meth, possession of meth and possession of meth precursors.

Red-tail Conservancy director Barry Banks told The Star Press that the Muncie-based land trust had allowed Dalton to live with his family at Munsee Woods, a former Girl Scout camp that has several buildings. Banks said Dalton was serving as the site's caretaker/tenant.

"We're just shocked," Banks said Wednesday. "I thought I could trust him. ... We're taking measures to ensure this won't happen in the future."

He said Dalton's family has been evicted from the old Girl Scout camp building where they had been living and where both meth and meth precursors were allegedly found during a State Police raid.

Banks said that last summer, volunteers at Munsee Woods found a backpack in a creek that was determined to contain meth-related materials. Delaware County sheriff's deputies were called to the scene. He said he did not know whether that incident was connected to Dalton or last week's events.

In the wake of the raid, Munsee Woods has been secured and it is being monitored by a member of the conservancy's board of directors.

Banks said he's hopeful Dalton's arrest wouldn't hurt the nonprofit group's mission. The 14-year-old Red-tail Conservancy owns nearly 2,000 acres in natural areas and farm land in east-central Indiana which are permanently protected from development.

"Our success is based on the trust of the community and the support of our mission," he said.