2017-03-07 / Front Page

Meth lab dismantled in Sanford

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Senior Staff Writer

SANFORD —  State drug agents dressed in hazardous materials gear carefully examined the contents of a green backpack Monday afternoon, turning up three bottles of what Maine Drug Enforcement Agency officials believe is methamphetamine,  along with a slew of items consistent with its manufacture.

Sanford Police earlier Monday had been informed of a backpack found about two blocks  from 29 Charles St., where police and MDEA  agents had been called Sunday night after tenants of the multi-unit apartment building told police they smelled chemicals, said Sanford Police Detective Sgt. Matthew Jones. 

Jones said police believe  the incident at 29 Charles St. Sunday night and the discovery of the backpack Monday morning are related.

At around 3:30 p.m. Monday, police arrested Tanner Winshop, 18, of 29B Charles St. in connection with the alleged drug incident at the apartment building the previous evening. His uncle, Herbert Winship, 40, was arrested on a probation violation and for allegedly resisting arrest when Maine State Police said he tried to run away when they located him at a residence in Lyman. On Tuesday, he was charged, along with his nephew, with allegedly operating a methamphetamine lab, a CLass B felony. Both men are  held at York County Jail in lieu of $15,000 cash bail. 

On Monday afternoon, the lab team, dressed in hazmat gear, with Sanford firefighters standing at the ready, worked from their position near the back of the police station, carefully extracting items from the green backpack — the three Gatorade bottles containing a substance they believe to be methamphetamine, a jug of muriatic  acid, plastic tubing, a coil of wire, and assorted other items. One of the three Gatorade bottles was said to be active and was positioned well away from the other two. Lab members then doused the contents in mineral oil, said to neutralize the chemicals inside. 

Authorities said each of  the Gatorade bottles constitutes a "one-pot" meth lab.

Jones said the department’s patrol division went to 29 Charles St. Sunday night to investigate the odor complaint, called MDEA and  evacuated the building for about 3-4 hours.  It was determined the building was safe at about 11 p.m., and residents were allowed back inside.

 Matt Cashman, supervisor of the MDEA Southern District Clandestine Lab Team said agents and Sanford Police went into the apartment building together Sunday night after MDEA obtained a search warrant.

“We found items indicative of methamphetamine manufacture,”  in one of the units, said Cashman.

The 3-story, multi-unit building is owned by Sisyphus Realty, LLC with a Dover, New Hampshire attorney’s office as an address. 

As for the backpack, MDEA  members were to take samples of the contents to be tested.  As well, Maine Department of Environmental Protection personnel were on hand to remove the chemicals, which are said to be highly flammable and explosive.

MDEA responded to 125 meth labs in 2016, up from 56 in 2015, said Cashman. He estimated the team has dismantled about a dozen so far, this year.

Methamphetamine manufacture is a Class B felony in Maine and carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, upon conviction.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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