The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 30, 2014

Bicycle is an unusual mode of transport for portable meth lab

WELCH — Police in McDowell County say a man riding a bicycle was carrying a backpack containing a portable meth lab.

Dennis Eugene Baker Jr., 31, of War, is charged with operating a meth lab and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, said Chief Deputy Roger Deel of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department.

“We had an anonymous call saying a gentleman was on a bicycle with a backpack carrying a portable meth lab,” Deel said. “We ended up locating him in Shaft Hollow in the Caretta area. He was on a bicycle and had a backpack and all of the components, and actually had a live meth lab cooking in the backpack.”

Deel said Baker complied with police when he was ordered to stop. The incident occurred Wednesday evening. A sheriff’s department team trained in how to disable meth labs was called to the scene.

“We disabled it,” Deel said. ‘We’ve got five people that are trained in that now. I’m one of them. We went in and disabled the lab and, of course, placed him under arrest for operating a meth lab.”

Deel said the portable backpack meth lab created a very dangerous situation for the community and the responding officers — as such portable meth labs are highly explosive.

Deel said Baker told police he was cooking the meth lab for personal use.

Deel said a can of pills was found in Baker’s possession at the county holding facility which led to the unlawful possession of a controlled substance charge.

Deel said the arrest was the first case the sheriff’s office has had of a portable meth lab on a bicycle. Deel said the sheriff’s office has made prior arrests of meth labs in homes and even in the trunk of a vehicle.

Most of the meth lab problems in McDowell County to date have been reported in the Big Creek District of the county, police said.

“We’ve got reports of it in other places, but everyone we have caught right now is in the Big Creek District,” Deel said.

Deel said Deputy L.T. Vaselarous and Deputy G. Horne assisted in the investigation.

Bond for Baker was set at $60,000.

— Charles Owens is a writer for The Bluefield Daily Telegraph

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