Suspected meth lab busted
Methamphetamine ingredients and two people preparing to make the illegal drug were found during a routine patrol of a wooded area northwest of Grass Valley Friday, according to Nevada County agents.
Todd R. Pinkham, 41, and Shelagh R. Lewis, 32, were arrested after two agents found the suspects, their Datsun pickup and a plastic grocery crate filled with suspected meth-making chemicals near Ridge Road and Rough and Ready Highway, on land known as Hell’s Half Acre.
A busted camper and heaps of trash are near a break in the fence, where narcotics agents regularly entered to check for drug activity.
“We’ve been aware of it for quite awhile, not just today,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Mason said as he and other agents inventoried items.
Agents believe they interrupted “a cook” – slang for the manufacturing process – because they found an ephedrine solution in a glass jar and several recipe ingredients to complete the process, including Red Devil lye, Brakleen, red phosphorous, iodine, acetone, muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide, Mason said.
Suspected manufacturing equipment – including a Coleman stove, hot plate, beakers, pans, coffee filters, tubing, a breathing mask and rubber gloves – was also found. Agents were also looking into the ownership of a new air compressor found at the scene alongside several cardboard boxes, one of which contained shotgun shells.
A suspected meth-smoking pipe was found in the truck ashtray, and amongst boxes in the pickup bed was a notebook that listed names and possible transactions.
“That’s the whole ‘Hee-Haw’ gang,” one agent said.
A rutted dirt road lined with pines and oaks leads to the remote spot. The location wasn’t unusual, according to Mason.
“More and more of them are out in the middle of nowhere. You don’t have to worry about what your neighbor smells,” he said, noting meth’s acrid, urine-like smell, “and you just leave your garbage out here.”
Pinkham and Lewis were each booked into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility, with Pinkham also facing a charge of drug paraphernalia possession.
Pinkham’s bail is $51,000; Lewis’ is $50,000. Jail booking sheets list Pinkham as a transient, and Lewis as a town of Washington resident.
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