Sheriff Jimmy Thornton’s suspicions that Sampson County is experiencing a resurgence of methamphetamine manufacturing and use took on a prophetic tone Wednesday morning with reports of the discovery of yet another lab and a dump site, all within a 24 hour period.
“It’s alarming, it really is, that we’ve got this going on,” Thornton said Wednesday. “I wish I were wrong about this latest trend we are seeing but, as you can see, it just seems to be happening more and more.”
The two latest incidents were unrelated, other than that they both added exclamation points to a seven-day period where residents have been arrested on meth-related charges and two other labs have been dismantled.
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In the first incident, which began shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, officers arrested three people in connection with a lab discovered at 7731 Boykin Bridge Road.
That discovery came on the heels of calls from Department of Social Services staff who had been contacted about a possible meth lab endangering children behind the Boykin Bridge Road residence.
Agents with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Division, DSS and probation responded to the home shortly after 5 p.m. to investigate the complaint. Upon arrival, officials discovered the components of a meth lab in a barn located behind the residence.
Taken into custody and charged were Jimmy Clifton Sanders, 39, of 205 Bob Lane, Clinton; Elizabeth Anne Finnicum, 30, of 230 Westbrook Road, Clinton; and Samuel Earl Powell, 20, of 154 Emerly Lane, Clinton.
Sanders was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine; maintaining a dwelling for controlled substance; possession of drug paraphernalia; simple possession of Schedule II controlled substance; simple possession of Schedule IV controlled substance; and possession with intent to manufacture sale and deliver methamphetamine. His bond was set at $50,000.
Finnicum was charged with possession of meth precursor, possession with intent to sale and deliver Schedule II controlled substance; possession of drug paraphernalia; and simple possession of Schedule IV controlled substance. Her bond was set at $25,000.
Powell was cited for possession of Schedule II controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Information from DSS was not available at press time regarding child endangerment allegations.
Meth dump site
While SID agents were at the Boykin Bridge Road residence, other county officers were responding to yet another meth-related incident, this one on Carraway Road, the site of what was later declared a meth dumping area.
The call, Cpl. Marcus Smith said, came in as a suspicious vehicle in a field near Carraway Road, but when officers arrived, the vehicle was gone. They did, however, find meth waste and components had been dumped at the site.
No other information on the site was available, but Smith said an investigation is ongoing.
Thornton pointed to the latest incidents as clear signs that meth is back with a vengeance in Sampson County.
“In a week’s time, we’ve seen three incidents involving meth, and possibly a fourth, and then the dump site. More and more of it is cropping up. It’s not just here, it’s all across the state.”
Thornton stressed that it wasn’t just a matter of his officers being more diligent, it was just as much a matter of the drug’s prevalence in the county again.
And he stressed that what investigators are currently seeing is suspects who aren’t just manufacturing meth for sell but rather for their own use.
“That’s what we’re dealing with now. More and more of these labs are being set up so users can get the stuff. This drug is so addictive, and laws are such that it’s not able to be produced like it once was. With the purchase limits, most people can’t buy (pseudoephederine) in large quantities or don’t have others buying it in large quantities for them, so they are trying to make it themselves.
“It’s what we are finding right now, in many cases. Either way, it’s very alarming. This stuff is very, very dangerous. And, again, it’s so addictive, probably the most addictive drug out there right now. This isn’t just in Sampson, it’s everywhere. Something’s not working and we’ve got to do something about this statewide.”
And the sheriff once again urged residents to remain the eyes and ears of the community, reporting anything they see or hear that might be suspicious.
“My guys are working just as hard as they can. They’ve really had little or no break from this stuff in a week. We are doing all we can. But we need the community’s help, too. The information they have may very well be the missing piece of the puzzle. So call us, please,” Thornton stressed.