By SHELLEY HANSON
When New Martinsville Police Chief Tim Cecil first started in law enforcement, he was a little apprehensive about arresting people he knew.
But after watching the members of his community and the children of friends ruin their lives with drugs, Cecil isn't shy about it anymore.
"When I first started it was harder. The fact that I've had to watch so many overdose and die - I'm tired of standing beside my friends, standing over a casket with their kid," Cecil said. "I have to put them in jail or they will die."
Late Wednesday, officers went to the Plaza Inn on W.Va. 2 to serve a warrant for third offense shoplifting on Amanda A. Long, 29, of New Martinsville. But what they ended up finding was an alleged crystal meth laboratory. Officers arrested Long and Michael R. Briggs, 25, also of New Martinsville for allegedly making methamphetamine.
"It's getting horrible. The sad thing is in a small town we watch these kids grow up. We see them grow up and meth and heroin take them over. It's our local people," Cecil said.
Cecil said during the past three weeks, his department has made five arrests involving meth operations. Most of these arrests involve a newer method to make the drug called "shake and bake."
"It's easy to make and quick and they get a quick high off of it," Cecil said.
Capt. Steve Kastigar said shake and bake can be just as dangerous as a larger meth operation.
"They do the mixing in 2-liter bottles. They let it sit and a chemical reaction occurs inside the bottle," Kastigar said. "A lot of times when they do it, they mix it and leave it on the side of the road. If it has a bad reaction, it explodes."
Cecil said to fund their drug addictions, many addicts have been stealing items, such as TVs, from Walmart and reselling them to get cash.
"I think it's everywhere," Cecil said of the crystal meth use. "We're just running into it more than we usually do."
At the Plaza Inn, as soon as officers realized what they were dealing with, they backed out of the hotel room for their own safety. West Virginia State Police were called in to dismantle the operation.
All the chemicals were removed from the room, but it still needs cleaned up before it can entered, Cecil said.