Drug Task Force busts meth lab

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 6, 2001

Staff Writer

Three Pike County residents were arrested Wednesday in connection with a crystal methamphetamine manufacturing operation.

At approximately 10 p.m., members of the 12th Judicial Drug Task Force, which includes deputies from the Pike County Sheriff’s Department and officers from the Troy Police Department, executed a search warrant at the residence of Keith and Bonnie Austin in the Josie Community.

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William Keith Austin, 36, Bonnie K. Austin, 37, both of Banks, and Chadwick Eugene Griffin, 21, of Troy were all arrested on charges of trafficking methamphetamine. Bond was set at $100,000 for Keith Austin and $50,000 apiece for the other two suspects.

Upon execution of the warrant, officers discovered a crystal methamphetamine manufacturing operation in progress with microwaves running.

A spokesman for the Drug Task Force said this was one of the largest methamphetamine labs taken out of operation in Pike County, to date.

"I appreciate the cooperative effort and time put forth in bringing this case to a close and I commend the entry team for entering and securing the residence without incident," Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said. "By shutting down this operation, I feel this will have a tremendous impact on the methamphetamine business."

Action taken Wednesday was the result of an ongoing investigation into the manufacture of methamphetamines in the area.

"We recognize this operation may possibly have been one of the main sources of methamphetamine in our area," Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said. "This is an example of the commitment of law enforcement in Troy and Pike County and its continued efforts in fighting the drug problem."

Everage wants to reassure citizens the Troy Police Department is conscious of the problems being experienced by the illegal use and abuse of controlled substances.

"The Troy Police Department has officers assigned to the Drug Task Force and will continue to support the efforts of the Drug Task Force by utilizing all possible resources of the TPD."

While executing the warrant, officers recovered over 500 grams of methamphetamine oil, crystal methamphetamine, Ecstasy tablets, 15 guns ­ assault rifles, shotguns and handguns ­ over $2,000 in cash, large amounts of chemicals and ingredients used in the manufacturing of crystal methamphetamine, digital scales and a wireless video observation system.

In addition to the local agencies, the Elba Police Department, assisted with the case.