Bust nets over #036;100 thousand in drugs, guns

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 26, 2002

An effort involving the Covington County Sheriff's Department, the Covington County 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force, the River Falls Police Department and the Conecuh County Sheriff's Department resulted in the seizure of two methamphetamine laboratories Thursday, the recovery of over $100,000 in drugs and weapons and the arrest of nine persons.

Included in the weapons recovered were a 30/30 rifle, a shotgun, a bowie knife and six handguns, said Investigator Jim Cave of the Conecuh County Sheriff's Department.

The seizure occurred at Paul,

a community in Conecuh County near the Covington County line. The meth labs were located on a dirt road called Bull Slough.

Arrested in connection with the labs were:

Teresa Boyette, 36, of Conecuh County: She was charged with trafficking and manufacturing of methamphetamine. Her bond was set at $30,000.

Derrick Early, 19, of Conecuh County: He was charged with trafficking and manufacturing methamphetamine. His bond was set at $30,000.

James Patterson, 36, of Elba: He was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of marijuana in the first degree. His bond was set at $45,000.

David Morris: 27, who used an Alaska address: He was charged with trafficking and manufacturing methamphetamine. His bond was set at $30,000.

Brian Foley, 27, of Elba: He was charged with trafficking and manufacturing of methamphetamine. His bond was set at $30,000.

David Smith, 32, of Conecuh County: He was charged with possession of precursor chemicals and a pistol without a permit. His bond was set at $15,300.

Bobby Ammons, 34, of Samson: Charged with possession of precursor chemicals. His bond was set at $15,000.

Edward Jackson Whittle, 27, of Andalusia: He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a pistol without a permit. His bond is currently being discussed with his attorney.

Also arrested was a 17-year-old juvenile. The juvenile was sent to juvenile detention center in Montgomery.

Conecuh County Sheriff Tracy Hawsey said agents arrived at the home of Boyett off County Road 43

at approximately 7:45 p.m., and made entry into the residence.

Hawsey said what was unique about the residence was that the only electricity to the residence was a generator. He said the generator was noisy and that law officials were able to get to the residence, a 1977 model mobile home, without being seen or heard.

Upon entry into the residence, Hawsey said there were three suspects inside and said there was a travel trailer behind the mobile home.

Entry was made into the trailer, where there were two more suspects.

"What was unique about (the second entry) was that (the suspects) were actually in the process of cooking the meth when we made entry," said Hawsey. "They had the hot plates and (the methamphetamine) was cooking as we made entry. The smell was very loud and there was a haze within the travel trailer of the mobile home. This is the first time I've actually caught (suspects) in the process of cooking meth and smoking it."

He noted that there were also firearms in both the mobile home and travel trailer.

Hawsey said approximately 15 law agents were in on the raid, and several suspects reacted with alarm upon the officers entering the two locations.

"Some of (the suspects) did not want to comply to our demands and the commands we gave, with weapons involved and in close proximity to all suspects present," said Hawsey. "We managed to get (all of the suspects) out of both the mobile home and trailer without incident."

Hawsey said approximately 19 pounds of methamphetamine was seized from both the mobile home and travel trailer during the raid.

The sheriff said the investigation has been an ongoing one.

"We had been watching this residence and (Boyette) for over a year, and this residence for a couple of months," said Hawsey. "She has moved from place to place in that community. We got good information from the River Falls Police Department and good information through the Andalusia Police Department, combined with what we had. It was a decent amount of information for a search warrant. This is our first sizable meth lab and to actually hit two meth labs with one search warrant, it's a good pop."

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams, Jr. said the labs seized Thursday are similar to labs which his department and the Covington County Drug Task Force are much too familiar with.

"(The two labs) probably represent a fairly typical lab in Covington County, and we have a little more experience with (the problem of meth labs)," said Williams. "In the last year and a half, we have now busted over 150 labs. This is something that the whole community needs to wake up and realize what a threat (methamphetamine) is. This is unlike anything I've experienced in over 30 years in law enforcement with heroine, cocaine and all the other drugs. This (problem) is local and it's as close as Wal-Mart (where products used to manufacture meth can be found), and the whole community has got to take note."

Williams said the presence of weapons made the meth lab seizures even more hazardous.

"The weapons presented such a threat to law enforcement because the methamphetamine and the chemical makeup alters the psychological process in the people that are using it," said Williams. "(The users) become paranoid and they pose a very clear and present danger to every law enforcement officer in this country. I am not criticizing the people that set these bonds (in Thursday's seizure), but had these people been arrested in Covington County for trafficking and manufacturing methamphetamine, their bonds would have been in excess of half a million dollars. That is how serious we are (about fighting drugs). "

River Falls Police Chief Jeff Holland said he was pleased with the cooperation of all the agencies involved in Thursday's seizure.

"As a whole the law enforcement community, especially in our area, we are going to work together and we are going to share our information and we are going to prosecute arrests," said Holland."The bottom line is the adults are hurting themselves and that's one thing, but (the problem of meth) is going to our kids. The kids are the future of our community, and if we don't something to stop (the drug problem), then our society might just go to waste. We definitely do not want that to happen."