Meth lab bust leads to two arrests

Published 3:38 pm Friday, October 3, 2014

Two men are in jail after authorities busted a methamphetamine lab on Bolling Street Wednesday night.

Derrick Joseph Rhodes, 26, of Greenville, and Zachary Lee Reid, 26, of Greenville were arrested and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, first degree.

According to Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden, the Second Judicial Drug Task Force has had the men under surveillance for several weeks.

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“We had received information that they were cooking meth at that location,” he said. “The Task Force began watching the location and (Wednesday) night observed the two men cooking meth. They made the arrest and then were able to obtain a warrant to search the property.”

Harden said authorities recovered nearly 3 and half grams of methamphetamine valued at $100 to $125 a gram.

“Our Drug Task Force does an outstanding job on a continual basis,” Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram said. “The message here to anyone cooking meth in Greenville or Butler County is that the Task Force will find out who you are, where you are, and will come to see you.”

Harden said there is an emphasis on keeping methamphetamine out of the county.

“It’s a very dangerous drug,” he said. It’s dangerous to use, and it’s dangerous to make. People are killed when a mistake is made and it explodes. We are working very hard to keep it out of our county.”

Ingram also had a warning for those who purchase pseudoephedrine for others.

“You need to know what they are using it for,” he said.

Pseudoephedrine is one of the ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Smurfing is a practice in which someone planning to cook methamphetamine pays someone else to go to a pharmacy and purchase a monthly allotment of pseudoephedrine in order to amass the necessary quantity of the product to produce meth.

“The Task Force has made several arrest for smurfing,” Harden said. “It’s a serious crime. It’s a felony.”

In 2012, Alabama passed a new anti-meth law aimed at tightening access to pseudoephedrine, the popular cold medicine ingredient used to make meth.

Previously the practice of smurfing was a misdemeanor. Under the new law it is a felony.

According to Butler County Deputy District Attorney Steve Townes, the practice of smurfing is a Class C felony. The sentence for a Class C felony conviction can be up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Under the new law, those purchasing pseudoephedrine must present a valid driver’s license, government ID, military ID or passport.

Such products can only be purchased from a pharmacist at a licensed pharmacy and the purchase is logged into the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) a real-time electronic logging system used by pharmacies to track purchases. An individual is allowed to purchase 7.5 grams of pseudoephedrine a month.

The medicines are still non-prescription, but purchases will be logged in the NPLEx, which will track the sale of all of over-the-counter cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine.

Two states – Oregon and Mississippi – have made pseudoephedrine prescription only.