Two arrested after mobile meth lab found in SUV

Christopher Dale Smith of Bainbridge, GA
Christopher Dale Smith of Bainbridge, GA

A Decatur County husband and wife were arrested after Decatur County Sheriff’s investigators found a mobile meth lab inside their SUV on Thursday night.

Amanda Brooke Smith, 27, and Christopher Dale Smith, 31, of Bainbridge are being held at the Decatur County Jail. Both are charged with manufacturing methamphetamines, possession of methamphetamines, and unlawful possession of pseudoephedrine.

Sheriff’s deputies had received several complaints about Amanda and Christopher Smith were purchasing unusually large amounts of pseudoephedrine, a substance commonly found in over-the-counter cold medicine.

A Georgia law only allows people to purchase and possess up to 9 grams of pseudoephedrine per month. People have to allow their driver’s license to be copied when purchasing certain cold products, and a computer system called “Meth Check” is in place at most grocery stores and pharmacies to keep a record of who has bought pseudoephedrine, in what quantity, said Investigator Jason Williams.

“The system is set up so that you can only purchase pseudoephedrine 3-4 times before you’re maxed out for the month. It prevents someone from buying cold medicine in Bainbridge and then

Amanda Brooke Smith, 27, of Bainbridge, GA
Amanda Brooke Smith, 27, of Bainbridge, GA

After receiving a complaint, law enforcement is allowed to search the Meth Check database, said Williams, who added that deputies got a tip Wednesday that the Smiths were going around buying more pills. Also on Wednesday, Decatur County Sheriff’s investigators received a complaint about two GPS units being shoplifted at the Bainbridge Wal-Mart, and the Smiths were mentioned as possible suspects, according to Williams.

On Wednesday night, investigators Williams and Trolinger began looking into the Smiths more closely. The deputies made contact with the Smiths, who were found visiting a home on Slough Loop Road in southern Decatur County.

While talking with the couple, Christopher Smith admitted that there was a mobile meth lab located inside the couple’s SUV, Investigator Williams said.

Deputies found what is called a “one-pot” meth cook inside a 24-ounce soda bottle placed in a storage compartment behind the driver’s seat. Also found in the SUV were containers of iodized salt, liquid fire and Coleman camp fuel–all known ingredients in meth labs, according to Williams.

Drink bottles, ranging in size from 20 ounces to 2 liters, are often used in the "one-pot" mobile meth cooking labs. Note: The bottle pictured is NOT from the case in this article.
Drink bottles, ranging in size from 20 ounces to 2 liters, are often used in the “one-pot” mobile meth cooking labs. Note: The bottle pictured is NOT from the case in this article.

“The liquid inside the soda bottle was still fizzing and we determined that the meth was near the end of the first stage of the meth manufacturing process,” Williams said.

Because the liquid inside the bottle was still very flammable and potentially hazardous, Williams and Trolinger requested the help of fellow Sheriff’s Office investigator, Brian Donalson, who is certified in handling and cleaning up meth labs.

“We got all of the liquid neutralized in buckets and made the scene safe before we continued the investigation,” said Williams, who noted deputies didn’t leave the scene until almost 2 a.m. Thursday.

Once the scene was safe, Sheriff’s deputies found some finished meth that the couple had attempted to dispose of when deputies first approached them, according to Williams.

This case was investigated by the Career Criminals Unit at the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office. The unit serves active warrants, searches for fugitives and wanted persons, and also looks into drug complaints, with the goal of reducing the local crime rate by placing more attention on people who routinely pop up as suspects in criminal investigations.

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