Two men were arrested last week and accused of running a meth lab out of a camouflaged camper in an industrial area of Chalmette, the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office said. A woman was also arrested as part of the investigation.
Frank Peralta and Jacob Warren, both residents of the 2500 block of Mumphrey Road in Chalmette, were booked Feb. 3 with creation of a clandestine meth lab, the sheriff’s office said. Peralta, 32, and Jacqueline Peralta, 40, were also charged with possession of a firearm along with possession of Xanax and Suboxone, a drug prescribed to treat heroin and opioid addiction.
Warren, 22, was charged on two bench warrants out of Jefferson Parish, one for an unpaid $245 traffic ticket fine and another for failing to show up for his trial on a misdemeanor theft charge in August 2015. Warren was arrested in Jefferson Parish in 2011 on suspicion of aggravated rape of a juvenile, though the charges were ultimately refused, court records show.
St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief John Doran said narcotics agents first encountered the three people during a traffic violation stop. After discovering controlled substances in the car, Doran said, the agents placed them under arrest.
Under questioning, the subjects admitted to operating a meth lab, though they claimed it was only for “personal use,” Doran said. Agents later located the lab inside a dilapidated camper parked on East Virtue Street.
Once they’d obtained a search warrant for the camper, agents donned Hazmat suits and walked inside. They discovered items commonly used to make crystal meth, including plastic bottles and tubing, coffee filters, lithium batteries, salt and aluminum foil.
Doran said the operation was relatively small, though he did not rule out the possibility that the men were distributing crystal meth. He said the sheriff’s office has discovered similar mobile meth labs in the parish over the last few years, and added that the FBI recently reported an uptick in crystal meth use in the Lower Ninth Ward.
Doran said it was not clear how long the meth lab had been in operation. At least two of the three people arrested were originally from Mississippi and had only recently moved to an apartment in Chalmette, he said.
“We’re still investigating how they got the camper and whether someone gave them access to that piece of property,” Doran said.
All three people were being held at St. Bernard parish prison Wednesday. Bond for Frank Peralta and Warren was set at $100,000 each. Jacqueline Peralta’s bond was set at $40,000.