Middletown police said the four were in a Mercedes stopped by a police detective around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday on Manchester Avenue at Leibee Street.
The detective who made the stop found an “active one pot methamphetamine lab” in the back seat, police said.
Middletown Police Detective Kristi Hughes stopped the car for making an improper turn near the intersection of Manchester Avenue and North Leibee Street.
Sgt. David Birk said it was a routine traffic stop until Hughes saw a small refrigerator in the backseat of the car.
“The fridge was somewhat opened and she observed the bottle and the bottle was bubbling,” Birk said. “They were in the process of cooking methamphetamine at the time.”
Firefighters and the Middletown Special Operations Unit were dispatched to dismantle the meth lab, and the road was shut down for at least three hours, according to police.
“Fortunately nobody was hurt,” Birk said. “We were able to disassemble the meth lab before it caused any significant harm to anybody.”
“With an active meth lab you actually have lithium inside a two liter (bottle) and when the lithium reacts with water that’s when you get the explosion and this was actually reacting,” Birk said. “If you don’t release the gas from the bottle that’s when it catches on fire and explodes.”
Police said they also discovered several syringes, digital scales, chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine and several marijuana and methamphetamine pipes inside the vehicle.
- Richard Gilbert, 34, of Middletown,charged with felony illegal manufacturing of meth, felony illegal assembly of chemicals used to make meth, misdemeanor possession of drug abuse instruments, and several unspecified warrants.
- David Dietz, 40, of Middletown. Dietz, who police said was the driver, was charged with felony permitting drug abuse, misdemeanor possession of drug abuse instruments and minor traffic violations.
- Robert Wilson, 37, of Middletown, charged with misdemeanor possession of drug instruments.
- Christiane Fields, 24, of Middletown, charged with two outstanding warrants. Police did not release details of the warrants.
Rodney Capps, who works at a car wash near the corner of Manchester Avenue and North Leibee Street, watched the mobile meth lab being disassembled.
“I saw them put orange suits on. I didn’t know what was happening,” Capps said. “They could’ve blown up by having it in the car.”
Gilbert, Dietz and Wilson are scheduled to appear in Middletown Municipal Court at 8:30 a.m. Friday for arraignment, according to court records. No court date had been set for Fields as of press time.