Mobile Meth Lab Bust

As police continue to fight back against meth labs in homes, many of the cookers are taking their drug making operation deep into the woods, or worse yet, onto the roads.

Authorities say meth production is down but mobile labs like the one found last night are now more common, not to mention the old ways of transportation from other countries.

With new laws making the products used to make methamphetamine less available, meth is on the way down. Sheriff Ron Seals says, "we saw a major decline in the meth production in Sevier County."

But it's far from gone and authoroties say mobile labs are how some meth producers are adapting. Captain Randy Parton of the Sevier County Sheriff's Department says, "these things are easy to just pick up in boxes, plastic containers, and throw it in the trunk of your car."

Police say they've got great tools to help find mobile meth labs during traffic stops. Parton says "he got his canine out and his dog alerted to the car."

Other than smelling ether or ammonia, Parton says knowing if the car next to you has a meth lab it's better to look at their home. Parton says there's usually an excess of coffee filters, drano cleaner, cold tablets with pseudoephedrine, starter fluid or muratic acid.

Even their garbage cans will give signs because, "to cook methamphetamine produces like five pounds of waste per ounce of finished product," Parton says.

But Parton says there's another way meth is coming to the area, a way you can't smell because it's not cooked here.

"Organizations that are bringing the drug across the southwest border," Parton says and with a large tourist population, the county's sheriff says their education programs are key.

"We feel that not only is it to the tourist, it's dangerous to our people that live here, the kids, and things like that in our community," Seals says.

Interesting to note, the suspect in last night's bust, Nick Burkhart faced a multi-count indictment in connection with oxycontin, but charges were dropped just about six weeks ago after cops couldn't find a witness.

Burkhart is in jail in lieu of 50 thousand dollars bond on the new charges.

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