The Franklin County Sheriff’s SWAT team arrested two men after a search of their mobile home in the 3000 area of Valleyview Drive resulted in a discovered meth lab Dec. 29.
Todd Church, 34, and James McNew, 24, were charged with manufacturing and selling drugs, Sheriff Zach Scott said.
Because they were selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, their charges likely will be upgraded from a fifth-degree felony to a fourth-degree felony and from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony, respectively.
Three schools are near the mobile-home park where the illegal lab was found, including Westmoor Middle School. A recreation park also is nearby.
Scott said the close proximately to areas where children are gave the department pause in performing the search during school hours.
The department received complaints two weeks ago, and officers set up surveillance, witnessed a drug purchase and then prepared a search warrant, Scott said.
“One of the reasons we want to wait and don’t like kids to be in school or around the area is because a meth lab can blow up or there could be a gun fight,” Scott said. “There are several things that could happen, and when we execute a search warrant, we have to think about ‘is it 3:30 in the afternoon when kids are getting off the buses’ and all the factors that weigh in. Since kids are out of school (now), we thought it was a good time to execute.”
The search occurred without incident, Scott said. “They just gave up. We entered without incident.”
The Columbus Division of Fire had hazmat teams on site to clean up the lab.
“They were actually in the process of cooking meth when the SWAT team entered,” Scott said, noting that meth labs could be very explosive and caution must be taken when entering such places.
McNew has had prior arrests, including dangerous ordnances and resisting arrest. Church owns the mobile home.