Meth Lab
  
Butler man awaiting trail charged again
  
By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   A Butler man awaiting trial in Johnson County Criminal Court on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine was arrested again Wednesday after federal, state and local law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant at his home and found another clandestine laboratory.
   According to Kenneth Phillips, director of the 1st Judicial District Drug Task Force, a search warrant was issued to Special Agent Dan Bowman of the Tennessee Highway Patrol for the residence of David Pendergraft, 12925 Hwy. 67 West, following investigation into a stolen vehicle.
   Phillips said Sgt. George Skeans of Carter County Sheriff's Department recovered a vehicle at Pendergraft's residence which had been reported stolen from 2328 W. G St. on March 8. Skeans found that the Vehicle Identification Number had been altered and notified Bowman, of the highway patrol's Criminal Investigation Division. During investigation, Bowman found that two other vehicles had altered VIN plates and also determined that a possible methamphetamine laboratory was located at the residence.
   Bowman contacted DTF, which assisted with the planning phase of the search warrant, and around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, agents of 1st DTF, THP, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and officers of Carter and Johnson County sheriff's departments executed a search warrant.
   Upon finding the methamphetamine lab, certified clandestine laboratory technicians were called to the scene to catalog and dismantle the operation.
   During a search of Pendergraft's garage, agents found a 15.5 hp Briggs & Stratton lawn mower engine which was determined to be stolen from Florida. Also seized were a Ford Bronco with altered VIN plate, a 21-foot aluminum trailer with altered serial number, assorted drug paraphernalia, approximately 5 grams of methamphetamine, and about $1,600 in cash.
   Agents also seized several weapons, including an SKS, a Colt Python .357 magnum, a Smith & Wesson 686 .357, a Titan .25 automatic pistol, a shotgun with the stock removed, and a .22-caliber rifle.
   Pendergraft was charged with manufacture of Schedule II (methamphetamine), possession of Schedule II, possession of Schedule II for resale, possession of Schedule IV (valium), possession of drug paraphernalia, and theft over $500. His bond was set at $128,000 and an arraignment scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday in Johnson County General Sessions Court.
   DTF agents also executed a search warrant at Pendergraft's residence on April 30, 2001, and found a methamphetamine laboratory. At that time he was charged with manufacture of Schedule II, possession of Schedule II for resale, possession of Schedule VI (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia.
   According to THP's Criminal Investigation Division, effecting the warrant would not have been possible without the help of DTF.
   "We are very appreciative of the DTF's presence while we were executing the search warrant," said one agent. "It greatly reduced the risk factor. Their presence and their training kept the scene safe."
   Recently, in Hawkins County, two men were killed and a third seriously injured when a methamphetamine lab inside a mobile home exploded, spewing toxic fumes throughout. Meth, which is a highly addictive stimulant, is easily produced from common household chemicals, diet supplements, cold medications and solvents. However, mixing it also creates poisonous byproducts. Laboratory cleanup is costly because materials are considered hazardous.