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Investigators bust 2 Limestone meth labs

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

ATHENS — Investigators uncovered two meth labs in the county Thursday and one of the alleged manufacturers faces an assault charge for allegedly splattering an investigator with chemicals.

In a separate case, Limestone County's chief deputy thwarted a drug transaction Thursday night and arrested an Athens man for distributing marijuana.

The meth labs were uncovered at 20612 Temperance Oak Road, Athens, and at 303 Hoffman St., Athens, said Athens drug investigator Johnny Morell.

He said the Department of Human Resources got a call to check on children staying at the Temperance Oak Road home, and authorities smelled fumes.

The Limestone-Athens Drug Unit found the source of the fumes in a garage, where Stacy Keith Houston, 31, allegedly was operating a lab, Morell said.

"Houston ran into the garage and grabbed two Mason jars and smashed them on the ground" Morell said.

Chemicals splatter

That caused the chemicals inside the jars to splatter Limestone investigator Josh McLaughlin, burning a hole in his shoe, Morell said.

"We secured Houston and got a search warrant and found evidence of a meth lab," Morell said.

He had unfinished crystal methamphetamine, Morell said.

Authorities charged him with manufacturing a controlled substance, tampering with evidence, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and third-degree assault.

He was in jail in lieu of $26,750 bond . Bond was not set on the assault charge.

The drug unit found the second lab on Hoffman Street on Thursday night after Morell received a tip, Athens Capt. Marty Bruce said. He identified the couple staying at the home as Collin Samuel Greene, 28, and Stephanie Lynne Tarwater, 24.

When the couple came to the door, Morell said, he could smell fumes. The unit got a search warrant and returned Friday morning.

Morell, Limestone drug investigator Lance Royals and Athens Lt. Floyd Johnson found numerous chemicals and equipment used to make crystal meth and 2 to 3 grams of product as well as unfinished product, Morell said.

Authorities charged Greene with manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was in jail in lieu of $26,000 bond.

Tarwater was in jail in lieu of $6,000 bond, charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Marijuana bust

The marijuana bust occurred when Chief Deputy Randy King was driving by Elm Street at Alabama 99 at 7:12 p.m. and saw a woman toss a bag into her car and then hand money to a man waiting inside another car, Chief Investigator Stanley McNatt said.

"Randy approached and saw that the woman had given the man a $100 bill," McNatt said. "He then found a bag of marijuana in her car."

McNatt identified the woman as Andrea Michael Carter, 25, of 18414 Alabama 99, Lot 86, Athens.

She was in jail on $1,000 bond, charged with second-degree illegal possession of marijuana.

McNatt identified the man as Phillip Levon Sanchez, 24, of 1105 Woodridge Apartments, Athens.

He was in jail on $5,000 bond, charged with distribution of a controlled substance.

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