One man arrested – and even more charges, and suspects on the way.
Savannah-Chatham Counter Narcotics Team takes down a meth operation on Burnside Island.
“This is a stark reminder these can found anywhere they are found anywhere.”
CNT Agent Gene Harley is talking about meth labs.
The most recent one found at a home on Moon River drive this week.
That bust that started with an undercover CNT operation, then got a boost from the public.
“Neighbors smelled burning coming from the backyard, funny smells from the residence,” explained Harley. “Instead of just keeping it to themselves they took action.”
On the 3 acre property, agents found one inactive meth lab and all the ingredients needed to make a whole new batch.
The home had no power, but neighbors and agents kept seeing lights at night. CNT says that was part of the meth cooks large scale operation.
“High tech security cameras in and out of the house to watch the property all led to the bedroom where they were manufacturing meth.” said Harley. “That area was equipped with a monitor”
30 year old Brian Mastison was arrested on multiple felony charges to include Trafficking Methamphetamine, Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
Mastison was also wanted by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office for Failure to Appear.
CNT says he was just the first of as many as 10 arrests that will be made in the case.
The team was able to clean up the lab in a few hours, moving the dangerous chemicals off the property and into safe containers. Its a skill learned by a month or more of training, and made possible through a grant and a new containment truck.
The truck contains masks, hazmat suits, air tanks, boots, everything needed to take care of chemicals which are hazardous to everyone.
“When people make meth labs they often fail,” explains Harley. “Which means the set fire or explode because you dealing with chemicals that aren’t made to go together and dealing with a vessel, a 2 liter bottle that wasn’t made to manufacture meth.”
Those ingredients are available at any hardware store, but together they can lead to explosions and more. CNT says many agents who once used to go into meth labs are now feeling the effects and are sick themselves.
Safety is a key, as is time and money. The truck means instead of waiting for contracted crews from across the state, trained agents can do it themselves.
“(In the past) they’d contact the GBI who would contact the state contrator for our region, who would live in Valdosta,” explains Harley. “But you couldn’t call him until you were in the cleanup phase.”
That would cost $3000-5000 for the crew just to show up. not to mention the overtime for the agents who had to sit around and wait.
When the chemicals are cleaned up, CNT also is in charge of containment. Specially designed units are on their property, keeping the waste safe until the GBI comes to pick it up and dispose of it.
Savannah-Chatham CNT is one of only 9 of these ACS units around the entire state and will also help with clean up and containment in Bulloch, Bryan and Effingham Counties.