12/08/04 — Wayne woman among those charged in meth lab crackdown

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Wayne woman among those charged in meth lab crackdown

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on December 8, 2004 2:02 PM

PRINCETON -- Three people, including a woman from Pikeville, on Tuesday night became the first defendants charged under a stronger law against methamphetamine production.

Johnston County sheriff's deputies found the meth lab in a barn off Old Rock Quarry Road, just north of Princeton.

"We came in, dismantled the lab and got it out of the neighborhood," Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.

Tammy Michelle Strickland, 28, of Party Road, Pikeville, was among the three people charged. She also has several pending charges in Wayne County, according to records in the Clerk of Courts Office.

The residents, Jeff Worley and Patricia Phillips, also were arrested and charged.

Worley was charged with multiple offenses, including manufacture and possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Ms. Strickland and Ms. Phillips also face similar charges, officials said, but not as many.

The new meth law took effect Dec. 1. Anyone convicted of manufacturing the drug would be guilty of a Class C felony and could be sentenced up to almost 18 years in prison. Under the old law, the offense was only a Class H felony, and defendants would serve only probation for a first offense.

The three "would've faced a matter of months previous to the law coming into effect," said State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Duane Deaver. "Now they're facing a serious number of years."

Children also were living in the home. Meth manufacturers can receive harsher punishment if the drug was made in the presence of a child, according to the new law.

"It's just a shame children have to be raised in a methamphetamine world and live in the conditions we've seen in this house," Bizzell said.

Officers also seized cocaine, marijuana and thousands of dollars in cash during the raid.

The number of meth labs uncovered by North Carolina authorities surpassed 270 this year, Attorney General Roy Cooper said. Only nine labs were found in 1999, but the total climbed to 177 in 2003.