October 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
60°F

Portable meth lab found near school

WADSWORTH — The Medina County Drug Task Force discovered a “pop-bottle” methamphetamine lab in Bird Street Park near an elementary school early Wednesday.

Responding to a call from Wadsworth police, task force officers found a black garbage bag filled with chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamines, and a portable meth lab in the form of a two-liter pop bottle containing a mixture of the chemicals and strips from lithium batteries.

The bag was found near a concession stand in the vicinity of a pee-wee football field and Franklin Elementary School.

Drug Task Force Director Gary Hubbard said agents separated the liquid chemicals from the lithium strips to stop the chemical process.

Hubbard said that meth makers use the pop-bottle method because it allows them to begin the chemical process, leave the lab and then come back to retrieve the liquid that allows them to make the finished product.

Hubbard said the method reduces the risk of being caught with the chemicals or in the act of making the drug.

Police have not made any arrests in the case, but Hubbard said they have some suspects.

“We do have people we’re looking at who may be responsible,” he said. He said anyone arrested will face charges of manufacturing methamphetamines, a second-degree felony punishable by up to eight years in prison, and a charge of possession or assembly of chemicals used to produce methamphetamines, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Had any children been nearby at the time, the manufacturing charge would have been elevated to a first-degree felony.

Hubbard stressed that the pop-bottle meth labs are dangerous. He said the bottle full of milk-colored liquid with black lithium strips floating at the top is extremely volatile and can explode easily if disturbed.

Police responders and task force members have to wear flame-retardant suits when they process meth-lab crime scenes.

He said Medina County has had very few meth labs despite sharing a border with Summit County, which regularly leads the state in meth labs found.

Hubbard said this is the third meth lab found in Medina County this year and 12 were found last year. He said Summit County law enforcement officials usually find a couple of hundred labs a year.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.