N.J. officer charged with running meth lab out of home
Christopher Walls faces a maximum of 60 years in prison if convicted on all charges
A New Jersey police officer is facing multiple charges and up to 60 years in prison after being busted for allegedly running a meth lab out of his home.
Christopher Walls, 50, a 19-year-vet with the Long Branch Police Department, was arrested over the weekend when officers were tipped off about his “suspicious narcotics activity” while responding to a domestic disturbance at his home. Walls’ colleagues found evidence of a meth lab in his basement and shed, PEOPLE reports.
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The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Hazmat Unit also found “materials, chemicals and instruments consistent with a methamphetamine laboratory in both the basement of the residence and in a shed on the property,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni in a press release.
According to investigators, Walls “was in possession of all ingredients necessary to manufacture methamphetamine” and methamphetamine residue was found in laboratory-style glassware at his home.
“A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Professional Responsibility and Narcotics Units and the Long Branch Police Department revealed that Walls had been in possession of books related to making methamphetamine, explosives, and poison,” the release said. Walls also had multiple weapons and ammunition inside that home that were easily accessible to a child living at the residence, according to the report.
Walls was arrested on Sunday and charged with “maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility, possession of a firearm, risking widespread injury, endangering the welfare of a child, manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance,” per WABC-TV. He is reportedly being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution without bond.
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“Thanks to the swift action of our office, the Long Branch Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police, a very serious risk to public safety has been averted,” Gramiccioni said. “The collaborative efforts of our agencies dismantled a very dangerous situation. It is particularly distressing that this hazard was caused by a sworn law enforcement officer.”
Since his arrest, Walls has been suspended without pay and could be terminated in the coming weeks.
“The officers in our agency risk their lives daily to protect and serve our residents,” acting Long Branch Police Chief Frank Rizzuto said in a statement. “It is disappointing beyond measure that one of our officers could have risked the safety of his family and neighbors by engaging in such dangerous conduct. This officer’s actions do not reflect the moral compass of our officers or this agency.”
Long Branch Mayor John Pallone said Monday that the city has a “no tolerance policy” for criminal-minded police officers. In a statement shared on Facebook, Pallone noted that Domingos Saldida, the city’s head of public safety, “will be filing disciplinary charges seeking to terminate Officer Walls’ employment with the City of Long Branch Police Department.”
The mayor noted that New Jersey police officers “must be held to the highest standard.”
Walls faces a maximum of 60 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
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