Meth lab bust in Lancaster County a regional first

Posted on Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 9:43 am

On Friday, Dec. 28 investigators raided a White Stone home and discovered evidence of a methamphetamine lab in operation.

Law enforcement uncovered the alleged operation on 113 Sandlin Drive at approximately 11 a.m.

The bust was part of an ongoing narcotics investigation task according to Captain Martin Shirilla of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.

Alongside revealing ingredients for creating methamphetamine in the home, the task force also found two adults and three children living in the residence.

The Lancaster Department of Social Services took custody of the children, ages 14, 8 and 2 and placed them in emergency foster care.

Police have yet to make an arrest in relation to the meth lab, but one resident, 32-year-old Jennifer George was detained for failure to appear in court. Her relative, 23-year-old John George, Jr. had been arrested Dec. 6 for creating and operating a meth lab from his vehicle.

Confirmation of the lab in White Stone as fully functional would make it the first methamphetamine operation discovered in Lancaster County.

Shirilla said the county, pursuant to state law, has enacted an ordinance to hold the property owner accountable for cleanup of the equipment and ingredients used to facilitate the manufacturing of crystal methamphetamine.

“Just as with all other illegal narcotics cases, the sheriff’s office aggressively pursues the manufacture/distribution/use of [crystal meth],” said Shirlla, who added that patrol officers have received training on identifying potential hazards they may encounter during traffic stops and other routines of enforcement.

The captain noted that the sheriff’s office is wary of the “numerous” health and safety concerns that meth lab operations pose to both the county and the region.

“Acid gas and flammable gas are created during the manufacturing process,” Shirilla explained.  The ‘cooking vessel,’ usually a 2 liter plastic bottle may swell to the point of explosion.”

The captain added that a mishandling of the mixture could create a fireball capable of engulfing an area of 935 square feet in flames.

“The acidic gas can be deadly,” said Shirillia. “The residue in the bottle is considered a hazardous material.”

In light of the incident in White Stone, anyone who has located a plastic bottle or similar container with bits of metal and a brownish, oily or watery substance should not attempt to recover it, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Instead, Shirilla said that the person who finds the container should treat it as a potential hazard used in illegally manufacturing crystal and meth and report it to the sheriff’s office as such.

A multi-jurisdictional task force led the investigation with assistance from members of the county’s Emergency Management services, the state hazmat response team, members of White Stone’s Volunteer Fire Department, and sheriff’s deputies from Richmond, Lancaster and Northumberland counties.

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