Two recent and unrelated arrests in the Ellabell area were each linked to the manufacturing of the drug methamphetamine.
Bryan County authorities say the making of meth is a rising issue they are faced with in this area.
Here’s what happened, according to authorities with the BCSO: On Oct. 6, Meldrim resident Dawn Mobley, 33, was arrested in Ellabell for having what authorities call a "mobile meth lab" in her vehicle. The arrest occurred around 8 a.m. on Bill Futch Road about a mile from the Bulloch County line in Bryan County when BCSO Deputy Donald Thompson pulled over Mobley for allegedly driving erratically.
After detecting a strong ammonia-like odor, he saw a cooler with a battery-operated fan aimed toward it on the front passenger floor board, the report said.
Thomas contacted Chatham Narcotics Team Strike Force. Strike Force member and BCSO Detective Butch Ward was one of the individuals who came out. Ward said the apparatus was a "mobile meth lab" which includes a combination of chemicals being formed into the narcotic. Mobley also allegedly was in possession of a small amount of marijuana. She was charged and taken to Bryan County Jail where she was released earlier this week after a $6,725 bond was posted.
The next day, five people were arrested when a meth lab was reportedly found in the garage of a residence on North Drive off Hwy. 119 in Bulloch County, a couple miles from the Bryan line. CNT Strike Force members Ward and BCSO Serg. Gary Provost were among those who responded to the scene.
Provost said the incident was initiated when Bryan County Sheriff’s Department received a call from the parents of a Bryan County resident.
They told Deputy Thompson their daughter had taken their car without their permission. An investigation led to a visit to the residence of the girl's boyfriend, Tony Finch.
Finch has a history of drug-related crimes in Bulloch and other counties, authorities said. Provost said this initiated the involvement of the Strike Force.
Provost said authorities arrived at the residence, witnessed one individual running from the scene, and received confirmation from another individual that Finch was inside.
A search of the home led to the alleged finding of a meth lab in the garage. Arrested were Finch, Bryan resident Victoria Foley, Bulloch resident Benjamin Roberts, and Effingham residents Julie Livingston and Marlena Taylor.
Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Rick Roundtree said approximately 475 grams of meth and 15 tablets of zanex were seized in addition to the lab.
Ward and Provost said methamphetamine is becoming more and more of a problem in the area. The drug is produced from a combination of ingredients such as ephedrine found in cold tablets and camp stove fuel.
Ward, who used to be an officer in Savannah, said the CNT strike force was created five years ago in Savannah to combat the manufacturing and distribution of meth.
He said CNT has done a great deal to limit the spread of a local meth problem and has even enhanced relations between agencies in dealing with other crimes.
"We can’t stop it," Ward said. "But the Strike Force has dealt a great blow to it. We’re hoping meth does not become an overwhelming problem in Bryan County, but the potential is there."
Bryan County Family Connection Director Tara Jennings recently arranged for Provost to visit the local elementary schools to alert them to the dangers of the drug which include brain damage and damage to the central nervous system.
If you suspect drug activity in your area, local authorities encourage you to call the CNT Strike Force at 800-466-6806.