Drug Task Force busts lab

BELLAIRE – The Belmont County Drug Task Force executed a drug raid at 118 Third Ave., in Bellaire at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.

According to Drug Task Force Commander John McFarland, this raid was part of an investigation that has went on for the last couple of months. The investigation involved the manufacturing and trafficking of crystal meth.

“When officers entered the house, there were signs that it was an active meth lab and signs of drug abuse,” McFarland said.

Debbie Kinney, 42, was arrested and transported to Belmont County Jail. She will face child endangerment charges, tampering with evidence and complicity to operate a meth lab. All of these charges are felony two charges. McFarland said that more charges are to come.

William Piper II, 23, is wanted by the Drug Task Force in connection with the meth lab but was not at the residence at the time of the bust.

The Drug Task Force found five one-pot bottles containing the leftover residue and solids from the cooking process. They also found four more bottles in the trash and outside of the house, which totaled up to nine separate meth labs.

Inside the house, the Drug Task Force also recovered a couple of gas generators, several packs of sudafed blister packs and several household chemicals often used for making meth.

Holmes County Sheriff’s Office was called in to dispose of the meth labs. The meth labs are highly toxic and combustible. If not disposed of properly, the consequences could be dire. To dispose of the meth lab, the officers from Holmes County cut open the one-pot meth labs and took out the lithium that is used and neutralized it. They use baking soda and another chemical to neutralize the fire hazard and bring the pH level to a neutral state. From there, they add another ingredient that will turn it into a solid, so that they may dispose of it.

“The only thing this unit does is respond to meth labs where it’s called and neutralize them and take them away from the scene,” said Sgt. Joe Mullet of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office. “This one, we had nine one-pot meth labs and eight HCL generators. Obviously, there has been a lot of meth cooked in this house. Each bottle that we carried out is a separate meth lab, so there were nine meth labs here that we know of and who knows how many more that we don’t know about.”

Along with Mullet was Sgt. Tim Striker, who is also from the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office.

Bellaire Police Department, Shadyside Police Department and Martins Ferry Police Department were on scene as well.

“The agents of the Belmont County Drug Task Force have worked tirelessly to bring this investigation to a close. I am proud of the work that they have done and could not ask for a better group of officers,” said McFarland. “Thank you to the other agencies that came out to assist in this raid and Holmes County for the help in the disposal of the lab.”

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com.