GALLIPOLIS — Two Gallia County men received a combined four years in prison for manufacturing drugs after law enforcement discovered a suspected meth lab in their parked vehicle earlier this year.
Nathan Halley, 29, of Crown City, and Zachary Matthew, 29, of Gallipolis, were arrested and charged in late March with second-degree felony manufacturing of drugs (meth). Both are being held in the Gallia County Jail.
Matthew was sentenced to three years in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, a second-degree felony. He was ordered to pay a mandatory fine of $7,500 and his driver’s license was suspended.
Halley was sentenced to one year in prison for attempted assembly of drug manufacturing, a fourth-degree felony.
The convictions were the result of an incident March 27, 2015, at the CVS Pharmacy on State Route 160, where Gallia County sheriff deputies were called to check on two unresponsive men in a vehicle. Officers and EMS were able to identify the two men based upon previous brushes with law enforcement, according to Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins.
“Officers discovered a one-pot meth lab located between the front seats of the vehicle. The males were removed from the vehicle and provided with immediate medical attention by Gallia County EMS. The vehicle was secured and the parking lot was contained while the Gallipolis Fire Department and other emergency personnel responded,” Adkins said.
The store was closed for about two hours because the vehicle was parked in a spot closest to the front door.
Inside the vehicle, deputies discovered materials commonly used in the production of methamphetamine, including ammonium nitrate, sodium hydroxide, Coleman fuel, salt, pseudoephedrine, sulfuric acid, coffee filters, lithium batteries, plastic tubing and syringes.
“The officers found meth oil, which had been produced and was ready to have the liquid extracted for consumption. These items or ones very similar would be expected when a meth lab is discovered,” said Britt Wiseman, assistant prosecutor. “The term ‘meth lab’ may be somewhat misleading as a ‘lab’ does not have to be large or take up a room inside a home. The ‘meth labs’ we often see are one-pots where the size is of a medium-sized pop bottle. Their relative small size and ability to be mobile, as we had in this case, oftentimes makes sniffing out these methamphetamine operations a difficult task.”
After receiving medical attention, the two men became responsive and were booked into the Gallia County Jail that evening. Both individuals were subsequently indicted by the Gallia County Grand Jury and their felony criminal cases commenced.
Methamphetamine-certified officers with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and the Gallipolis Police Department were on scene to test the materials located inside the vehicle and to dispose of the hazardous substances, according to Eric Mulford, assistant prosecutor.
“The ingredients discovered inside the vehicle in this case may not be harmful when properly used individually. However, the intentional combination of these materials in the production of methamphetamine is a lethal combination and puts everyone in close proximity to the meth lab at risk for possible contamination and explosion,” he said. “For that reason, Prosecutor Adkins has made the investigation and successful prosecution of these cases a top priority for our office.”
“We are very fortunate to have such hardworking and devoted first responders and emergency personnel in this county,” said Gallia County Sheriff Joseph Browning. “This case alone required the assistance of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, Gallipolis Police Department, Gallipolis Fire Department, Gallia County EMS, and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. Members and officers of these groups were instrumental in responding quickly, ensuring the safety of the workers and patrons inside CVS Pharmacy, caring for the unresponsive males, and for keeping the general public safe. These collaborative efforts are critical to continuing the mission of making Gallia County a safer place for everyone.”
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.