Six arrested in meth labs bust

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   In a four-day series of operations, agents with the First Judicial Drug Task Force discovered four clandestine laboratories and arrested six individuals in connection with manufacturing narcotics in Carter, Johnson and Washington Counties.
   On Sunday, agents of the DTF went to the residence of Anthony Barry, who resides at 118 Brinkley Road, Shady Valley. Agents had been contacted by an officer with the Smyth County, Va., Sheriff's Department concerning the possibility of a methamphetamine laboratory at Barry's residence, according to information released by DTF Director Ken Phillips.
   DTF agents, with deputies from the Johnson County Police Department, obtained permission to search the residence and discovered "the necessary precursors to manufacture methamphetamine," information released by Phillips states. Barry is currently incarcerated in Smyth County, Va., on related charges, and investigation into the incident is continuing with additional charges pending.
   On Tuesday, deputies from the Johnson County Sheriff's Department were responding to a domestic disturbance call on Hubert Taylor Road when they located and identified a clandestine laboratory. In that incident, Lonnie Price, 27, and David Triplet, 40, both of 2112 Hubert Taylor Road, Mountain City, were taken into custody in connection with the meth lab.
   Price has been charged with manufacturing Schedule II narcotics (methamphetamine), possession of Schedule II narcotics, possession of Schedule VI narcotics (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $43,000. Triplett was charged with manufacturing Schedule II narcotics (methamphetamine), possession of Schedule II narcotics, possession of Schedule VI (marijuana), possession of a weapon in the commission of a felony and violation of probation. His bond was set at $46,000. Both subjects are scheduled to be arraigned in Johnson County General Sessions Court on June 18.
   Also on Tuesday, agents with the DTF conducted "knock and talk" at the residence of Herbert Hoover Harrah at 108 Lonesome Dove Road, Elizabethton, according to information from Phillips. "This investigation was the result of numerous complaints received by the Carter County Sheriff's Department concerning unusual odors and large traffic flow to and from the residence," Phillips said in a released statement.
   While agents were talking to Harrah, age 54, they obtained consent to search the residence and discovered a clandestine laboratory used to produce methamphetamine. Harrah, a former assistant chief at the Johnson City Fire Department, was charged with manufacturing Schedule II narcotics (methamphetamine) and conspiracy to manufacture Schedule II narcotics.
   Also charged in connection with the meth lab found at the Harrah residence was Terry Lee Davis, age 42, 326 Industrial Drive, Mountain City. He was taken into custody and charged with manufacturing Schedule II narcotics, conspiracy to manufacture Schedule II narcotics and criminal impersonation. Both individuals are being held without bond and are scheduled to appear in Carter County General Sessions Court on June 2.
   On Wednesday, agents of the DTF in conjunction with the Washington County Sheriff's Department SWAT team and deputies executed an arrest warrant for Rachel Brown, 19, 109 Merritt Drive, Lot 2, Johnson City. At the scene, agents and officers located the precursor chemicals used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.
   Agents obtained consent to search the residence and located a quantity of an off-white substance believed to be methamphetamine and the necessary components to manufacture the drug. Brown and another subject from the same residence, James Campbell, 22, were arrested and charged with manufacturing Schedule II narcotics (methamphetamine), possession of Schedule II narcotics for resale, possession of Schedule III narcotics (Lortabs) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both subjects are currently being held on a $52,000 bond.
   According to information released by Phillips, methamphetamine is beginning to be a problem of "epidemic proportions" in Carter, Johnson and Washington Counties. Phillips stated in a press release that "The First Judicial District Drug Task Force has located, identified and dismantled nine clandestine laboratories during the month of May that have resulted in 13 individuals being arrested with more arrests expected."
   Carter County Sheriff John Henson agreed that the problem with methamphetamine is on the rise. "We have seen a big increase in meth labs in all three counties," he said. "We have seen a 90 percent increase in meth labs in Carter, Johnson and Washington Counties in the last few months."
   Henson stated that while Washington and Johnson Counties have been battling methamphetamine laboratories for approximately a year now, the meth lab located at the Harrah residence is a first for the county. "This is the first one we've gotten in Carter County so far, but they are starting to show up," he said. "We're infested with them."
   One reason the drug is gaining popularity, Henson said, is that the components used to make the drug are easily accessible. "The stuff to make it with is so easy to get," he said. "You can buy it at a grocery store, at a hardware store, at the dollar store."
   Another reason for the growing popularity of the drug, is that drugs tend to go in trends. "OxyContin used to be real big," Henson said. "OxyContin is slowing down now and meth seems to be taking its place."
   The ease of manufacturing the drug is another aspect that contributes to its popularity, making laboratories harder to locate, Henson said. "We've even found labs that were set up in the back of portable trucks," he said.
   It is not just the stereotypical "drug user" who manufactures methamphetamine, Henson said. "You'll be amazed at the people that are involved in this stuff. That's why it's so hard to detect," he said, citing for example that Harrah, who was arrested Tuesday for manufacturing methamphetamine, was a former assistant chief of the Johnson City Fire Department.
   Henson said he is worried about the methamphetamine problem because the drug has proven to be very dangerous to users. "Actually the second time you use it you can get addicted to it," he said. "It's a very dangerous drug and it could very well kill you."
   In addition to the dangers that using the drug carries with it, the laboratories used to manufacture the drug are just as deadly. "These things (meth labs) are dangerous. They can blow up and have been known to blow up," Henson said. "The odors of it in the homes with children, it's causing the kids problems. The odor can kill the kids. These people need to stop and think about how many lives are at risk."
   Henson said he urges any residents of the area to contact their local Sheriff's Department if they have any information about the possible locations of methamphetamine laboratories. "All information will remain confidential," he said.