LONG VIEW — An SBI chemist had her hands full with a 2-liter bottle filled with about 100 grams of methamphetamine in the carport of a quiet, modest Long View neighborhood Thursday morning.

Only her eyes were visible beneath the respirator she wore to protect her lungs from the deadly chemicals used to create methamphetamine. She used a tool that resembled a foot-long eye dropper to extract the drug so the batch can be tested in the state lab.

North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation crews extract samples from a soda bottle filled methamphetamine. A working meth lab was discovered when a search warrant was served on a home in Long View Wednesday night.

“That stuff is all going to test positive for meth, and this guy’s going to be looking at a trafficking charge,” said a narcotics investigator with the Long View police department who asked that his name not be used. “That batch was one step away from being ready to sell on the street.”

Drug agents found the meth when they raided a working lab Wednesday night. But they hadn’t planned a big bust for that night.

After taking numerous complaint calls from neighbors about suspected drug activity at the house at 1977 15th Ave., SW, a drug agent from the SBI and one from LVPD planned to drive by and get a look at the place at about 2 p.m. Tuesday.

When they arrived, they saw a car pulling out of the driveway. Officers believe the driver was at the house to buy methamphetamine.

They decided to follow him and called in the license plate number. It came back reported stolen. They tried to pull the driver over. He refused to cooperate and the chase was on.

The car got away, but the agents continued to scour the neighborhood and spotted it again.

This time the driver passed a stopped school bus and nearly hit a second one head on as he scrambled to get away from the officers. He bolted toward U.S. 70 and sped across all four lanes of afternoon traffic without slowing.

He’d gotten away from the agents a second time, but they were able to learn his identity. His name is William Christian Richardson, 41, of Lenoir and he’s got at least six outstanding arrest warrants in Catawba and neighboring counties, said the agent.

Having lost track of Richardson, the agents went back to the house. In the driveway, they spotted the charred remains of equipment and chemicals used to make meth. The agent said the gear had been burned in an attempt to destroy evidence. It had the opposite effect – it caught the agents’ attention and got them curious.

No one answered the door when they knocked, so they got a search warrant to raid the house.

When they came back at about 8 p.m., they found the home’s sole occupant, Jonathan Harold Reep, 27, of Hickory, asleep on the couch.

A search of the house turned up digital scales, chemicals and equipment used to make meth, and in the back yard a plastic 2-liter bottle about a quarter filled with a grainy orange liquid – methamphetamine one stage away from ready to sell on the street.

“This is 96 to 98 percent pure,” the agent said, calling the lab a mid-level operation. “It’s stronger and cheaper than the stuff they used to get from Mexico.”

Reep told the agents that he’d seen them knock on his door earlier but thought they were there because he’d missed a court date. When they left, he decided the danger was over.

The agent said Reep told him he’d been on a seven-day bender and hadn’t slept in all that time. Reep planned to sleep it off – in the past, he’d slept for as long as 32 hours straight after similar meth binges – and they’d knocked on his door just after he had drifted off to sleep.

During the search, agents found a 14-inch sawed off shotgun in Reep’s house. Shotguns with barrels shorter than 18 inches are illegal and classified as “weapons of mass destruction” according to state law. A second issue is that Reep is a convicted felon and not allowed to have any firearms at all, the agent said.

The Burke County Narcotics Task Force assisted Long View and the SBI in the investigation and raid that resulted in Reep’s arrest.

He was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and maintaining a dwelling for controlled substances. Reep is being held on a $10,000 secured bond and may face additional charges pending the results of the ongoing investigation.

http://www2.hickoryrecord.com/news/2012/jan/26/high-speed-chase-leads-long-view-meth-lab-bust-ar-1861358/