Comments Off on Portable Methamphetamine lab found in Athol car; Joseph Hamel, 28, arrested

dt_common_streams_StreamServerwertgFriday, a possible first in the area.

Athol police arrested Joseph Hamel, 28, and subsequently called the State Police Fire and Explosion Unit and the Drug Enforcement Agency to remove a portable meth lab from the back of his mother’s car. Methamphetamine labs are famously combustible.

Crystal methamphetamine is an established problem drug in much of the rest of the country, but is rarely heard of in western Massachusetts.

“First time that I’ve ever dealt with it,” said Athol Police narcotics officer and Northwestern Anti-Crime Task Force member Jarret Mousseau.

“Hopefully it’s an isolated case,” Mousseau said.

On Monday, Hamel pleaded innocent at his arraignment in Orange District Court to three charges of manufacturing, possession with intent to distribute and simple possession of methamphetamine, a Class B drug. Judge David Ross ordered Hamel held on $25,000 cash bail.

Hamel’s address is variously listed in court papers as the apartment in which he was arrested, 159 Park St., Apt. 3, Athol, and a Blackington Road, New Salem address. In explaining his decision to hold Hamel on bail, Ross wrote Hamel reported himself to be homeless and living seasonally in Maine.

According to Mousseau’s police report, he and another officer, acting on a tip from the Park Street apartment building’s landlord and with permission from the apartment resident, searched the apartment for a portable meth lab and found Hamel, whom they arrested on two outstanding warrants.

Ross set a second bail of $25,000 on those charges: warrants from a 2008 case in which Hamel was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a prescription opioid, half a Percocet, without a prescription.dt_common_streams_StreamServereweew

Tipped off that the lab was in a PT Cruiser driven by a man matching Hamel’s description, Mousseau questioned Hamel. Hamel allegedly admitted that all the chemicals needed to make meth were in the trunk of the black PT Cruiser, the car belonging to his mother and driven to the parking lot by himself, and later described manufacturing the drug to sell it for profit in a recorded interview.

Members of the State Police Fire and Explosion Unit, DEA, Athol Fire Department and more Athol Police and members of the Anti-Crime Task Force responded.

Mousseau said the lab and ingredients all fit into a large laptop bag. “It’s highly portable, you could bring it inside, you could carry it in the woods, you could do it in your car, it’s very small and portable,” Mousseau said.

Hamel cooperated with the investigation and later told police that he had left some of the finished product under a mattress inside the apartment, according to the report. Mousseau wrote the tenant told him to “get it the hell out of there” when told of the meth, worried his 4-year-old son would find the drug.

Police seized unidentified pills and less than a gram of a flaky white substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.



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