The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Police/Courts

November 22, 2013

State Police discovering just how pervasive meth problem is in southern West Virginia

32 arrests made

West Virginia State Police have uncovered nine active methamphetamine laboratories and three “meth dumps” in southern West Virginia and have arrested 32 people on charges related to methamphetamine production in the past month, officials announced Friday.

First Sgt. Michael Baylous of the Charleston detachment said the raids were part of a State Police effort started Oct. 26 to discover how pervasive the methamphetamine problem is throughout the southern part of the state.

“We wanted to know how bad the problem was outside of the Kanawha Valley,” said Baylous. “What we found was there were quite a few in the month period of time.

“It’s more widespread than we thought.

“It’s the matter of having the right amount of resources and manpower to address the situation.”

Baylous said more methamphetamine labs are mobile labs that suspects can take from location to location, also called “one pot” or “shake and bake” labs.

One of the by-products of “one pot” lab is a “meth dump,” or a remnant of the lab that is left in the woods, in a home or at other locations, said Baylous.

Since Oct. 26, one “meth dump” has been found in Raleigh, one in Fayette and one in Greenbrier County, according to Baylous.

Methamphetamine doesn’t just hurt addicts, Baylous said.

“Contamination comes from the meth labs and the people around them that take the chemicals out into the general public,” said Baylous. “Sometimes their kids are exposed to it, they take it to school, and other kids are exposed to it.

“It’s unbelievable, how toxic these chemicals are,” he said, adding that explosions are also a possibility when meth is being made.

Baylous said troopers are focusing more efforts on educating the public about safety issues related to methamphetamine.

He noted that abuse of the drug is both a moral and social problem.

While State Police don’t yet have the manpower to form a meth task force, they are treating the problem seriously and dedicating as much time and effort to cracking down on illegal meth operations as possible.

Community members can help by reporting suspected meth labs to police.

The recent arrests were made from community reports, reports by drug informants and “good, old-fashioned police work,” Baylous said.

He said Trooper First Class L.W. Price spearheaded the recent investigative focus on meth labs in the area.

The following felony arrests for operating a mobile methamphetamine lab were made in local counties:

Raleigh County: Ronald Roberts, 3 counts

Fayette County: Earnest Sorrells, 3 counts; Melinda Gwinn, 3 counts; Ralph Bland, 3 counts; Abraham Ennis, 3 counts; Angelique Ramsey, 2 counts; Ryan Dodd, 3 counts; Emily Murray, 2 counts; Daniel Price, 3 counts; Matthew D. Fox, 2 counts; Jerry M. Moul, 2 counts, Gerald W. Hunter, 2 counts

Summers County: James P. Hunt, 3 counts; Codi S. Bowles, 2 counts, Roger W. Reed, 3 counts; Kandi A. George, 3 counts

Greenbrier County: Matthew Falls, 3 counts

Additional arrests were made in Webster, Pendleton, Randolph and Braxton counties.

—  E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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