Meth lab had cops for neighbors

Posted: 4th September 2012 by Doc in Uncategorized
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GAINESVILLE — A man was cooking meth in an apartment with children in it, next door to a police annex in southeast Gainesville, authorities say.

The Gainesville-Alachua County Drug Task Force arrested Marty Holder, 37 and charged him with two felony drug charges involving making and possessing methamphetamine and one misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge early Saturday morning.

An apartment at 1900 SE 4th St. where an alleged meth lab was found Saturday in Gainesville. The apartment shares a building with the Gainesville Police Department Woodland Park Annex.


Here’s what happened, according to accounts by Task Force Lt. Matt Nechodom, an arrest report and GPD spokeswoman Angelina Valuri:

Through an undercover operation, the task force got information on Wednesday that Holder was cooking and selling methamphetamine at Gainesville Housing Authority apartment No. 33, 1900 SE Fourth St.

“It’s a duplex and the other side is the police annex,” Nechodom said, adding that the meth didn’t smell exceptionally strong because Holder wasn’t using an ether-based mixture. “It was very low quality.”

Three people were in the apartment besides Holder: a boy, 5, a girl, 10, and the children’s mother, Amber Jones, who dated Holder.

On Thursday, the task force tried to make contact with Holder but no one was home. Around the same time, Jones took the boy to the hospital because he was sick and acting lethargic. They kept him overnight.

Doctors at the hospital contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families, and a GPD officer responded as well.

Nechodom said once he realized children were involved the case took on a new urgency.

“It immediately became a top priority,” he said.

On Friday, the task force served a search warrant on the apartment after getting probable cause from an undercover operation. Because meth labs can be volatile and potentially explosive, police coaxed Holder out with the help of Housing Authority officers.

“With a meth lab,” Nechodom said, “busting in is not a good idea.”

Meanwhile, a GPD Officer at the hospital found out about the task force operation, and separated Jones from her children and interrogated her. He asked her about meth in the apartment, and she said she had no knowledge of it. Sometimes she smoked meth, she said, but never around the children.

A DCF representative told Amber her children were being taken away on Friday night.

“She had absolutely no reaction to the news,” Nechodom said. “She was emotionless.”

What she did do was text Holder, and tell him to “clean up.”

Officers allowed her to text because she didn’t know Holder was already in custody. When questioned about the text, she told police she texted him because she was having an inspection soon at the apartment and wanted him to clean it.

After his arrest, Holder told police he cooked meth three times in the past six days. A neighbor who lives nearby said Holder moved in two weeks ago, and before that there were no problems at all from the family, who lived there five years.

“The little girl would hang clothes on the line and say hello,” the neighbor said, adding that she thought Holder must have spearheaded the meth operation. She said she never smelled anything out of the ordinary coming from the apartment.

“We don’t know what meth smells like,” she said.

Holder said he cooked meth in Jones’ room.

“In his mind he was trying to be protective of the children,” Nechodom said. “He put a rag under the boy’s room, put up a sheet divider and cooked under a vent.”

The children told police they weren’t allowed to bother Holder when the sheet was up. The girl thought it was for privacy, and the boy sometimes sat on the bed in the room.

Nechodom asked Holder if he knew he was cooking meth next door to police. He said yes.

“Yeah, I’ve had some people tell me I was pretty stupid for doing it next to a police annex,” Holder told Nechodom.

Police told neighbors the apartment was contaminated, and clothes still hung on a line there on Monday afternoon.

Nechodom said he assumes a hazmat team will come and clean before they decide what to do next, and Jones will probably be charged with some sort of child abuse or neglect. He said the task force worked two days straight on the case but were glad to make the bust, especially since children were involved.

“I know it’s late,” he told the task force after the arrest. “Sorry about screwing up your Friday night. But you can go home knowing you made a difference.”


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