Thursday, January 25, 2001

Shed was meth lab, police say

Arrest site in middle of suburbs

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP — Six weeks ago, the shed next to a two-family house in the 2200 block of Ash Road in Loveland Park began to get a make-over.

        Unbeknown to the landlord who did not live there, electricity was hooked up. Exhaust fans were installed.

        Authorities in Warren County said Wednesday the fix-up was a clandestine methamphetamine lab smack in the middle of suburbia, just yards from upscale subdivisions that dot the border of Warren and Hamilton counties.

        John Burke, head of the Warren County Drug Task Force, said Warren County sheriff's deputies found Jason Wright, 28, inside the shed. Also there: cooking equipment, packages of over-the-counter cold medication and tanks of anhydrous ammonia, oxygen tanks and 89 grams (about 3 ounces) of methamphetamine that has a street value of about $9,000.

        Mr. Wright, of the San Je Trailer Park in Roachester, was charged Wednesday with manufacturing a controlled substance, a felony.

        He was jailed without bail and is due in Warren County Court today on unrelated warrants for domestic violence and obstructing official business. He is to appear on the drug charge Tuesday in Mason Municipal Court.

        For police in fast-growing Warren County, the drug lab was the first such discovery in a suburban area. In the past year they had found the illegal operations in vans, motel rooms and at one rural farm house.

        Mr. Burke said his agency had information that a lab was operating in Loveland Park — a community of small, affordable homes along the Little Miami River that once was a resort area to the rich. However, authorities couldn't locate it.

        “The key here is that the manufacture of methamphetamine is going to be done virtually anywhere,” said Mr. Burke. “It's so easy to be mobile with this.”

        Drug agents were alerted to the operation when sheriff's deputies arrived at the residence to serve a criminal warrant.

        “People started bailing out of the place and they called us,” Mr. Burke said.

        Mr. Burke said it appeared the lab had been in operation about three days. Two other men who ran out of the shed were questioned but released, and others escaped.


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