Meth lab busted, motel rooms cleaned

Friday, June 29, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

A Virginia man was arrested Monday and charged with initiating the process of cooking methamphetamine in a Lewisburg motel where three crews cleaned several rooms Tuesday.

Jackie Wayne Miller Jr., 38, of Sugar Grove, Va., was arrested by the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force and booked into the Marshall County Jail at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday on a charge of "initiation of process," a recently enacted state law.

Crushing pills and separating phosphorous from match tops and striking plates are illegal as they are steps in the P2P, or red phosphorous method to cook methamphetamine that's stronger than the so-called "shake and bake," or "Nazi" methods of making meth, according to Tim Miller, assistant director of the task force.

The task force officer emphasized that he's "no relation," to the suspect. Nor is Millie Williams, (previously Miller) proprietor of the Celebration Inn where she's taken steps above and beyond what's required to make rooms suitable for rent after a meth lab bust.

"I have a private state certified hygienist coming in Friday morning," Williams said of her additional step. "I'm doing everything possible."

Lewisburg Police Detective Sgt. David Henley responded Monday night as a member of a local meth task force. His remediation was continued by a state agent for the judicial district and a certified cleaning crew hired by the innkeeper.

Task Force Director Tim Lane explained the need for precautions and revealed a larger problem.

"What if no one knew he was there?" Lane asked. "He'd have been successful and left. Who would have known that it had been used as a meth lab? People who stay there later get sick from the residue."

When ingredients are prepared and cooked to make meth, Miller's assistant director continued, "particles fall to the floor and there are potentials for spills." A well-known plumbing pipe clearing product is one of the ingredients.

Guests in a motel room used as a meth lab "are going to feel terrible; nausea and headaches, irritation of the eyes." Tim Miller said. "It would be like being poisoned... Somebody with respiratory problems could die."

Officers who investigated similar cases years ago are suffering ill effects now, he said.

Remediation is accomplished with other chemicals to neutralize the adverse chemicals.

"We can clean up [illegal meth] labs across the state," Henley said. "We remove the chemicals. Cleaning crews have to remove the residue. The state certified crew was to be there later Tuesday."

Henley entered the room wearing a protective suit. He was breathing from an air pack. After tests were conducted, he breathed through what might be likened to a gas mask.

"We always wear protective clothing with either a mask or air pack," the Lewisburg detective said. "It was pretty large for a mobile meth lab."

With all the precautions, Henley said he's "sure" the rooms will be suitable for occupancy. The owner said two are available, and another two would probably be available for rent tonight.

Jackie Miller "checked in on Sunday and was away Monday during the day and we got him Monday night," Williams said.

Tim Miller estimated that Jackie Miller could have been making "probably a quarter of an ounce, or seven grams; a fairly substantial amount." The assistant director of the task force said that much meth might be sold for $1,500 to $2,000.

The suspect is being held on $40,000 bond.

It's not likely that he will be able to post bond, according to the task force director, because of what preceded his arrest here.

Jackie Miller had made bond with a bail bondman in East Tennessee, but according to at least two of the people relaying that information said that while he'd not technically jumped bail, he is believed to have violated his contract with the bondsman. That might have been by leaving the area, or not reporting to the bondsman as required.

"What bond company would take him now?" Lane asked. The East Tennessee bonding company wants to be released from its obligation with Jackie Miller, officers said.

A bounty hunter found Jackie Miller at the motel, realized there was a meth lab there, called Lewisburg Police and prompted the larger police action, according to law enforcement officers.

"Had the bondsman not reported it, he could have left it all there," Lane said reiterating his point about contaminated motel rooms that are unknowingly being rented to guests who become victims.

Uniformed officers first responded to the tip from the bounty hunter. Tim Miller was called. He assigned task force agents Brad Martin from Lewisburg Police and Mauro Edwards of the Marshall County Sheriff's department.

Noting that Jackie Miller was "using the old way" to make meth, Tim Miller explained, "You really have to know what you're doing. It gives off a gas that will kill you."

And, it can explode.

"In a hotel, that's not a good thing," Lane said. "If it blew, the whole place would have burned up since the room was in the center" of the motel.

The room Jackie Miller rented was on the second floor. Rooms on both sides and below were quarantined.

"The drug task force came back Tuesday and released two of the rooms where there was definitely no contamination," Williams said. "There are two that are [were] still quarantined. I don't want to rent them until they're certified. I don't want to take any chance that there's anything in there."

From this experience, the innkeeper concluded, "This happens all the time at hotels. It's not an isolated incident."