Woman finds makeshift meth lab while walking in woods

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

A walk through the woods turned out to be more dangerous than a Roan Mountain woman ever expected. While walking near her residence on Monday, a woman who lives on Old Railroad Grade Road unknowingly stumbled upon a makeshift meth lab and decided to take items she found back to her residence and notify authorities.
   According to an agent with the First Judicial Drug Task Force who was on the scene, the woman brought the items back to her residence without knowing what they were or the danger they presented. When officers arrived on the scene, they determined that the items the woman, whose name was not released, had found were the components of a methamphetamine laboratory.
   According to CCSD Lt. Mike Fraley, when he arrived on the scene, he noticed that the items, many of which were enclosed in black plastic bags, were beginning to smoke. Fearing they may ignite, or, worse, explode, Fraley decided that for the safety of all those involved the area needed to be secured and all non-emergency personnel removed from the scene.
   The DTF agent who was on the scene stated that he has not yet been able to speak to the individuals who had found the items because he wanted to secure the scene and was also waiting on other members of the DTF to arrive so the items could be safely removed and the scene cleaned.
   The agent said that, after the scene was cleared, agents from the DTF will begin an investigation in the area where the woman found the items. After the investigation, additional information about the incident will be released, he said.
   Agents of the DTF raided the site of another meth lab over the weekend on Roaring Creek Road, which is located near Old Railroad Grade Road. It remains unclear if the two incidents are related.
   Methamphetamine laboratories are a growing problem in Northeast Tennessee and across the state. According to information from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tennessee accounts for 75 percent of methamphetamine laboratory seizures in the Southeast region of the United States.
   Meth labs also provide an increased risk for law enforcement officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel who respond to the scene. The chemicals used to manufacture the drug produce toxic fumes and are highly flammable.