01/25/08 — Seven will face charges in meth lab arrests

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Seven will face charges in meth lab arrests

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 25, 2008 1:46 PM

Wayne County's underground web of alleged methamphetamine buyers and sellers grew thinner this week as authorities shut down a clandestine lab and charged five people.

Investigation in a six-month campaign dubbed "Operation Pop-A-Smurf" also continues. Charges against as many as 60 other people might be filed, Sheriff's Office Maj. George Raecher said.

"Smurf" is slang for a person who gathers pseudoephedrine pills for meth "cooks" -- people who operate explosion-prone labs also known for generating toxic fumes.

The lab the Sheriff's Office located this week allegedly belonged to William Andrew Kornegay, 31, of Windsor Drive in the Hickory Hills subdivision outside Goldsboro, Raecher said.

Children's playthings covered Kornegay's yard, and police said there were indications that the accused meth cook's young son had lived inside at some point.

Raecher said the Sheriff's Office has no concrete evidence that "cooking" of the drug took place while the man's son was at home.

Kornegay faces nine felony-level drug counts and had turned himself in on Friday morning, Raecher said, although he was not at home when authorities first confronted the scene.

Present during the raid was Gregory Scott Radford, 37, of N.C. 581 South, and authorities learned that he had outstanding warrants.

Radford was charged with 16 felonies, which included possessing chemicals used to make methamphetamine and manufacture of the drug, a detective assigned to the case said.

On Thursday afternoon, Raecher called Kornegay's father, hoping the family would assist police in locating him.

Raecher also told family members who were taking care of Kornegay's son not to return to the home for clothes or other belongings. Items inside the Windsor Drive residence are covered with chemical residues.

A detective who processed the scene after it was decontaminated by the State Bureau of Investigation and county Health Department said strong lingering odors told him that meth had been cooking at 313 Windsor Drive.

The detective described a "strong, chemical smell," probably from the strong solution of ammonia used in manufacturing the drug.

The detective said that someone at Kornegay's home was also stealing electrical service using a highly dangerous method.

Someone had used jumper cables to connect a wire to a utility pole to provide electricity to the home, the detective said.

Neighbors had recently called authorities to report that their yard had almost caught on fire when Kornegay was burning copper off of copper wires.

Inside the lab, which was spread between the home and an outdoor shed, investigators found many items associated with illicit meth production -- coffee filters, lithium batteries, tubing and two-liter bottles, the detective said.

The major said he is realistic about combating the methamphetamine problem, but says investigators will continue to target residents who set up dangerous labs.

"We probably won't totally shut down the methamphetamine, but our investigation is focused on crippling the local supply, and hamper the methamphetamine operation in this county."

Sheriff Carey Winders praised his investigators for the operation, noting the relative difficulty in taking down a clandestine lab.

"These cases are awful hard to investigated, because they required the involvement of other agencies," Winders said. "It's an in-depth investigation, because meth labs are complicated."

In unrelated investigation that used pharmacy records of pseudoephedrine purchases, three other people were charged.

Jailed under $100,000 bond was Willie Dean Lancaster, 22, Nancy Drive, authorities said, on six counts of possessing chemicals used to make methamphetamine.

James Corey West, 28, Southern Mobile Drive, Dudley and Holly Carroll Sutton, 23, Mobile Circle, Dudley were jailed under $150,000 secured bond, both facing six counts of possessing chemicals used in the manufacture of the illicit drug, the major said.