Sheriff Robert Beegle said law enforcement investigators continue to work on the case, and additional arrests are expected. It is the first time a meth lab has been discovered in town, and that puts neighbors at greater risk because of the volatile elements used to make the drug.
Jennifer Michael, 51, Pomeroy, was arrested on charges of illegal manufacturing and assembly of chemicals, according to Beegle, and she was jailed in Middleport Thursday night. Investigators discovered items commonly used to manufacture meth and the toxic remains of three "one-pot" meth labs at Michael's home on Lincoln Heights.
Rick Smith and Deputy Fred Workman, of the Major Crimes Task Force and the Gallia County Sheriff's Department, respectively, were on the scene. Both are certified in investigating clandestine meth labs. They removed the hazardous items from the residence, and Chem Pack Services, Mt. Gilead, responded to the scene for recovery and disposal of the hazardous materials.
Beegle said the Pomeroy fire department also assisted in securing the scene and protecting neighboring residences from possible damage from a fire or explosion, which are not uncommon when meth labs are operating. Battery acid, household chemicals, and over-the-counter decongestants are just some of the ingredients used to make the drug.
Last month, agents with the Major Crimes Task Force, Gallia County deputies and investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification arrested a man and woman suspected of operating a mobile meth lab on Leading Creek Road near Middleport. Tony Jacks, 24, and Mary Schuler, 27, are charged in that case. Deputies discovered drug paraphernalia in their vehicle, and when their mobile home was searched, investigators found and seized several "shake and bake" labs and destroyed them.
At that time, Smith said the "shake and bake" labs, which consist of bottles, tubing and other items, are being more commonly used to manufacture the drug, and they are more frequently found alongside roadways in the rural parts of the county, since leaving them roadside is safer.
"Ditch dope," Smith said, often looks like kitchen trash, but the fumes from the labs are toxic, explosive, and could kill in seconds. The materials are often hidden in coolers and other containers, and anyone finding such items along a rural road should not approach them but call the sheriff's office at once, Smith said.
In February, five were arrested on various charges relating to the manufacture and use of meth at a home on Lower Ohio 7 near the Gallia County line. All the meth cases remain pending in Meigs County's courts.