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Two charged after meth lab found in Carter

6/2/2011

Law enforcement officers who were attempting to arrest a man on outstanding drug charges were able to add some new charges when they allegedly caught the man cooking up a fresh batch of methamphetamine early Wednesday.

Michael Charles Hicks, 48, 152 Rufus Taylor Road, and James Michael Carr, 44, 156 Bobs Hollow Road, were arrested on a charge of initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine and also on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Carr also was charged with promotion of methamphetamine manufacture.

Sheriff Chris Mathes said the discovery of the meth lab was made while several deputies were accompanying Elizabethton Police Department officers in serving several warrants that had been issued by the EPD on charges of purchasing the ingredients used in manufacturing methamphetamine.

The officers arrived at 152 Rufus Taylor Road around 12:15 a.m. Wednesday. Lt. Mike Little knocked on the front door and spoke to Hicks’ mother, who told them her son was in the garage behind the residence.

Three officers then went to the garage and knocked on the door. When Hicks opened the door, they said they could see a cloud of smoke and fumes coming out the door. Little recognized the fumes as a chemical reaction from the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Hicks and Carr admitted they were making meth and were arrested. Capt. Tom Smith and other Carter County officers were notified and the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force was called to the scene.

At 3 p.m., Smith, dressed in protective equipment, entered the building and discovered numerous chemicals used in the manufacture of meth, including drain cleaner, pseudoephedrine pills, lithium batteries, coffee filters, some of which had a reddish residue, a white powder mixture of salt and other chemicals that were producing a smoky vapor, table salt containers, lantern fuel and other items.

Mathes said the raid was the first time a meth lab has been dismantled in Carter County since the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration stopped paying for the disposal. He said the costs of a cleanup are around $2,500 and can go up much higher if there is contaminated soil connected with the operation.

Wednesday’s cleanup was reported to the Carter County Emergency Management Agency, which contracted with Hepaco to conduct the cleanup. The county might be reimbursed for the cleanup costs by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mathes said.

In addition to the latest charges, Hicks also was served with EPD warrants charging him with 14 counts of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture and probation violation.

EPD Investigator James Sexton said numerous complaints had been received about drug activity at 152 Rufus Taylor Road conducted by Hicks. On Feb. 11, the department began monitoring pseudoephedrine purchase logs maintained by the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force. The investigation revealed that Hicks had made 22 purchases of pseudoephedrine since Aug. 15. Fourteen of the purchases had been in five different pharmacies in Carter County. A total of 36.24 grams was purchased.

Hicks had previously been charged with promotion of methamphetamine manufacture on Aug. 6.

Hicks answered the charges in the Elizabethton warrants on Wednesday in Sessions Court. Judge John Walton ordered him to be back in court on May 10 with his attorney. Walton also revoked Hicks’ bond on the probation violation charge.

March 24, 2011
Johnson City Press
By John Thompson