Crime Unit Makes Large Drug Sweep in Fairfield County
The surveillance and intelligence were complete, now agents with the Fairfield Hocking Major Crimes Unit sit around a table in an unmarked building, mapping out their day.
On this day, there are 22 potential targets.
As the agents put on their gear, they zero in on the homes at the top of their list.
Five marked cars head to the first address.
The home on South Columbus Street in Lancaster caught their attention after some complaints from neighbors.
Agents enter the home, and in no time, a discovery is made in one of the rooms.
"I think we got the money right here," says Noah, one of the agents. "Right there is a kit for making meth."
Most of the evidence is found in a backpack, but something even more disturbing is uncovered.
"A small child was living in that room with this stuff," said BCI Special Agent Dennis Lowe. "We found some manufacturing materials in a diaper bag. That's the mentality of the folks we're dealing with here."
Lowe leads the cleanup to secure the potentially explosive materials.
"If I find any vessels, I will bring them out right away," he said.
"This is what we run into every day," said Sgt. Jared Collins, with the Crime Unit.
He says it's a problem that keeps his agents more than busy.
Drug lab cases are jumping every year.
Crime Unit statistics show in 2011, there were 190 cases. That almost doubled to 398 cases in 2012.
There were 665 cases investigated last year, and Collins says there's the potential for even more cases this year.
"I don't think we're different than any other community, but we're being extremely proactive finding these labs," Collins said.
For these agents, it's just another day on the job to help stop the drug pipeline, at its source.
"The big picture things - ways to solve the problem - are a little beyond our grasp," says Collins. "All we can do is plod along and take as many labs off the streets as we can."
Another problem the agents ran into at the suspected drug house - bed bugs.
A man and woman living in the home were arrested, charged with the illegal assembly of chemicals and child endangerment. Both are felonies.
A warrant is out for another man.
The 17-month-old child living in the same room where the drug-making materials were found was in the care of child protective services as of Wednesday night.