Iowa City man faces federal meth charge

Witnesses tell authorities they knew suspect manufactured meth

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IOWA CITY — A witness in a federal meth investigation told police they saw an Iowa City man manufacture meth “over 200 times.”

Nicholas W. Rotter, 32, previously charged with several state-level drug offenses and other charges, now faces one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

According to a 10-page criminal complaint filed earlier this month by Iowa City police investigator and Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer Jerry Blomgren, the investigation into Rotter began in 2015. The complaint states investigators spoke with several subjects who said Rotter was manufacturing meth. In July and August 2015, police learned Rotter was traveling through Iowa City on a bicycle and carrying a backpack with meth-making ingredients.

On Aug. 1, a subject told investigators they had provided Rotter with pseudoephedrine — a primary ingredient in meth — and had driven him around Iowa City while Rotter cooked meth in the vehicle.

Rotter was spotted by police on August 26 and was followed to an apartment on Muscatine Avenue in Iowa City, according to the complaint. Five days later, investigators assisted in disposing of a suspected meth lab at that same apartment, according to the complaint. Court documents state a backpack was found under some shrubs that contained two suspected one pot-style meth labs in Smart Water brand bottles, items used to make meth and receipts. Authorities used those items to obtain surveillance footage that showed Rotter purchasing meth-making paraphernalia, according to the complaint.

On Sept. 4, 2015, investigators served a warrant at the residence on Muscatine Avenue. While no items were found there, police spoke with both Rotter and a woman at the residence. The woman told police she provided Rotter pseudoephedrine in exchange for meth. The woman and Rotter were charged with meth precursor violations related to items previously found at the residence. Rotter agreed to cooperate with investigators, the complaint states.

Court documents state Rotter provided investigators information relating to Ronald Engstrom, who was later indicted on charged relating to selling ice methamphetamine in the Iowa City area.

“However, (Rotter) eventually stopped contacting investigators,” the documents state.

In March 2016, police learned Rotter was cooking meth “repeatedly” in a vehicle outside of a residence on Tracy Lane in Iowa City. Investigators collected trash left on the curbside outside of the residence and found numerous meth-making items. A warrant was served at the residence and an occupant of the home admitted that Rotter had been staying at the residence and making meth, according to court documents. The occupant agreed to cooperate with investigators.

“(The occupant) admitted to purchasing pseudoephedrine regularly for Rotter in exchange for methamphetamine and had watched or assisted Rotter in manufacturing meth over 200 times since he met him sometime in 2015,” the documents state.

Rotter was arrested on May 6 when Iowa City police responded to a suspicious person call in the area of Sheridan Avenue and Maggard Street. Responding officers encountered Rotter, who tried to flee on his bicycle, but was captured and found to have two suspected one pot-style meth labs in Smart Water bottles in his backpack.

In June and July, police spoke with more witnesses who said they knew Rotter to manufacture meth.

“Since investigators became familiar with Rotter manufacturing methamphetamine in 2015, numerous one pot style methamphetamine labs have been processed which were directly related to him,” the complaint states.

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