03/02/07 — Meth lab found in bag

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Meth lab found in bag

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 2, 2007 1:53 PM

PIKEVILLE -- A trash bag found along the roadside outside of Pikeville Thursday contained more than garbage. Inside was the equipment to manufacture methamphetamine.

At about a quarter after noon, inmates from the Wayne County Jail were cleaning up trash along the northbound on-ramp of U.S. 117 just on the edge of town when they stumbled upon a large, black trash bag, Pikeville police Chief Ken Barrett said.

As they were pulling it up with their rakes, the bag tore open and inside were the remains of a meth lab.

"It had a strong odor about it and the parts that we could see were obviously a meth lab," Barrett said. "By the looks of it, it probably hadn't been down there too long."

He explained that almost immediately the inmates knew they had stumbled across something and called the prison guards who were supervising them. They, in turn, called him and he called in the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

By about 7 p.m., a containment team had arrived from Greensboro to take over the bag and its contents.

By 8 p.m., the crew was gone and with them, the meth lab -- the hoses, the bottles and all the residue.

"They came, got into the bag, got it into containment and got it out of here," Barrett said. "There were still a few pieces we didn't find, but all in all, it was pretty much a full lab.

"You think of a lab as a great big room with all this stuff, but it's not all that complicated. A meth lab this size could have been stored in the trunk of a car."

There wasn't, however, any immediate evidence of where it might have come from.

"This may have come from Timbuktu," Barrett said. "We're still working on trying to run down a few leads."

He cautioned people cleaning out their own ditches to be wary of such bags.

"If anybody happens to come across something like this, they should call law enforcement," Barrett said. "There's a number of things that can cause injury. The chemicals in it can be explosive, the vapors can be deadly and the acids can cause some permanent injury."

He added that finding the bag wasn't particularly surprising, but admitted it was a little bit different.

"I know it's not much -- a plastic bag in the grass," Barrett said. "But I guess that's what you've got to look for sometimes -- a plastic bag in the grass."