12/17/04 — Couple accused of manufacturing methamphetamine

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Couple accused of manufacturing methamphetamine

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 17, 2004 1:58 PM

Wayne and Duplin sheriff’s investigators say they shut down a methamphetamine manufacturing operation and arrested two people in the Scotts Store area of north Duplin County.

Rita Lea Lee and Davey Brock Gainey were charged with several crimes, including making methamphetamine.

Gainey was also charged on an outstanding warrant from Wayne County for failure to appear in court for possession of stolen goods. His bond totaled $55,000.

Ms. Lee also had outstanding warrants in Wayne County for probation violations, possession of stolen goods and failure to appear in court. Her bonds totaled $61,000.

Duplin and Wayne officers gave this account of the arrests that occurred Tuesday:

Sheriffs Winders and Wallace

News-Argus/Bonnie Edwards

Sheriffs Winders, left, and Wallace with items from meth lab.

The Duplin Sheriff’s Office was told that there was a methamphetamine lab at a mobile home at Scotts Store. The investigators were told the couple had recently moved from Wayne County, and they were wanted by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office on other charges.

Duplin officers went to the mobile home, which was sitting back from the road. They found the lab outside the mobile home.

The residents were inside and so were instruments used to make methamphetamine. Officers said they also found items stolen from a break-in in Wayne County.

They found children living in a mobile home about 300 yards from the lab. Methamphetamine labs have chemicals that can be harmful to children. They are also highly combustible.

The local officers contacted the State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to dismantle the lab and take away the contaminated materials, including anhydrous ammonia and two five-gallon buckets that had the meth oil-base in them.

Meth labs are treated like hazardous-waste sites. Persons dismantling them must wear protective suits.

Officers said there was enough material to make up to 3 ounces of methamphetamine. The investigators estimated the street value to be about $9,000.

Under a new law, anyone convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine receives a sentence of up to six years.

If convicted, Ms. Lee and Gainey would receive considerably more time, said Duplin Sheriff Blake Wallace, because of their criminal backgrounds.

“Both have extensive criminal records,” said Wallace at a news conference Thursday in Duplin County. “They had scanners with lists of 10-codes, a wireless monitoring system. They knew what they were doing.”

Wallace said the discovery of the meth lab was the result of the two sheriffs’ offices cooperating.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said his investigators are familiar with Ms. Lee and Gainey, who have been charged several times with break-ins.

Winders said teamwork with law enforcement agents is important in combating methamphetamine production.

“They work together,” he said of criminals. “They cross over county lines. We should, too.”

A meth lab can be moved easily, Winders said.

“They’re not like the old-timey liquor stills,” said Maj. Ray Smith of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. “They’re extremely mobile.”

Methamphetamine can be made in three or four stages at different places. And they all know “if they’re caught in any stage of it, they’re pretty much sunk,” Smith said.