MOULTRIE — The Colquitt County Drug Enforcement Team made its first meth bust Tuesday for which the county will have to pick up the tab for cleaning up.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency announced in February that it would no longer fund the cost of removing chemicals found at the scene of methamphetamine laboratories.
On Tuesday officers arrested two women accused of setting up a lab in a room at Moultrie Inn on First Avenue Southeast.
“It’s going to start coming out of our money,” Sheriff Al Whittington said of the cleanup of illegal meth-making operations.
Drug Enforcement Team Commander Steve Exum estimated that the cost to the county for cleaning up the sites likely will run from $2,500 to $5,000. The same company will be doing the cleanups, but the feds will no longer pay for them.
Colquitt County officials were informed of the change in a Feb. 23 email that the asset forfeiture funds and other federal money used for that purpose were eliminated.
“Individual agencies will be required to contact the clean-up crew and arrange pick-up and payment,” the email said. “We will not broker any business agreements between the agency and any vendor.”
In Tuesday’s raid officers arrested Crystal Joy Ramsey and Michelle Renee Powell after receiving a tip about a room at the motel and executing a search warrant at about 1:30 p.m., Exum said.
Inside Room 225 of the hotel officers found chemicals, containers and scales used in making methamphetamine, Exum said. He said officers believe the suspects had cooked some of the drug and were in the process of making more, but any meth that may have been in the room had been disposed of when officers entered.
Ramsey, 26, 1957 Sylvester Highway Lot 8, and Michelle Renee Powell, 32, 722 Second Ave. S.E. Apt. 8, were each charged with criminal attempt to manufacture methamphetamine.
In instances where a hotel or motel room has been used to manufacture methamphetamine, health officials should be notified, said Carolyn Maschke, public information officer for the Southwest Georgia Health District. Maschke said she is not familiar with other instances where meth labs were found in rooms.
“Usually they hear about it in trailers and houses, not so much in hotels/motels,” she said. “We would have to go in and inspect it. They can’t rent it out again until it’s been cleared as not being a hazard.”