York County reports increase in meth lab busts in 2013

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comMay 2, 2013 

— A Fort Mill man who authorities say mixed chemicals in soda bottles and stashed tin foil and syringes in his house in an attempt to create a methamphetamine lab was arrested on Wednesday.

The arrest comes as York County officials report finding a growing number of meth labs. So far this year, seven labs have been discovered in the county, officials said. Ten were discovered in 2011 and 10 in 2012.

At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, agents used a warrant to search Terry Wayne Kimbrell Jr.’s Garys Circle home after agents made several undercover meth purchases at the house, said Marvin Brown, commander of the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit.

Garys Circle is in the Whitley Estates Mobile Home Park, a half-mile from Pleasant Knoll Elementary School.

While searching the home, agents found tin foil, syringes and full Gatorade and Mountain Dew bottles that tested positive for chemicals, Brown said. Some of the bottles also had a “crusty, white residue” on them, and one bottle contained what looked like a lump of baking soda.

A hazardous materials team removed the chemicals from the scene, while Kimbrell, 38, was charged with distribution of methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine within proximity of a school/park, and attempting to manufacture methamphetamine.

An active meth lab wasn’t found in the house, Brown said.

Last Friday, agents accused four people after searching a Mount Holly Road home in Rock Hill and recovering chemicals, pills and tools that can be used to make the drug.

Drug residue, Brown said, “was everywhere.”

Agents also found 75 pills of pseudoephedrine in the house, along with wet paper, plastic bags, different cold medications, digital scales, a large can of salt, Sudafed pills and 17 instant cold packs, he said.

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant found in cold medicines that doubles as a key ingredient in meth.

According to a police report, agents also seized a laptop, Lithium batteries, more than 13 grams of pseudoephedrine and .8 grams of meth.

Police charged Smitty Ray Montgomery, 62, and Misty Nichole Brooks, 22, with possession of meth. On Tuesday, police found a third person who was at the house, Michael Brandon Ross Rash, 23, at a nearby home and charged him with possession of meth.

The fourth person, Kerry Lynn Riley, 42, was accused after authorities made undercover buys. She was charged with attempting to manufacture methamphetamine after agents say she was trafficking 98 doses of pseudoephedrine and had meth she intended to sell, the report states.

“She’s dodging us,” Brown said, adding that family members and friends have called her trying to convince her to turn herself in. “She knows we’ve got warrants on her.”

Riley had been arrested and charged previously with manufacturing methamphetamine and shoplifting. She was released on a more than $50,000 bond, according to court records.

Meth lab increase

Brown said the local increase in meth lab busts mirrors a statewide trend. Complaints have also increased, he said, although not every meth lab that officials check turns out to be active.

During a conference sponsored by the county’s All On Board coalition in March, Lt. Max Dorsey of the State Law Enforcement Division said agents seized 267 small meth labs in 2011.

A year later, officials shut down almost 540 meth labs throughout the state, and by March, they had seized at least 100 labs in 2013.

One-pot meth labs, which take shape in Gatorade bottles, 2-liter soda bottles or any other “small vessel,” are condensed meth labs that are more mobile than their predecessors, Dorsey said.

Users fill the bottles with chemicals that react on their own and produce the meth in its liquid form, he said. The manufacturers then use another vessel with salt and acid to solidify the drug into a compound they drain through a filter to produce the finished product.

“They’re manufacturing it as a ticking time bomb,” he said. “In the pots, you have a bomb, potentially.”

Once meth, a highly addictive street drug, “gets a hold of you, you can’t shake it,” Brown said.

Unlike heroin and cocaine, which users have to buy, meth can be cooked at home, he said.

“Almost every cook has an addiction,” Brown said

He said he has learned from interviews with suspects that it’s not uncommon for addicts to cook meth every day or every other day.

Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082

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