Meth lab discovered at local motel

Published 8:54 pm Sunday, March 25, 2012

DTF agent Paige Howell, left, and APD officer Mary McNew partnered to aid in the bust of a meth lab Sunday night at Southland Motel.

A working meth lab at a local motel led drug task force agents and police officers to arrest four people Sunday — including a wanted man who had eluded local officers for months, they said.

The arrests were the latest in a string of collars for the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force and Atmore Police.

Leandra Corey, 21, James Richard Gohagin, 31, Tiffany Renee Wiggins, 26, and Tracy Jeter, 37, all of Atmore, were taken into custody just after 5 p.m. Sunday at Southland Motel after authorities discovered the four in the process of “cooking” methamphetamines, DTF agent Paige Howell said.

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Howell said Gohagin has been wanted by local authorities for several months and was found hiding in the motel room’s bathroom.

APD officer Mary McNew said law enforcement officers received an anonymous call earlier in the day reporting that Corey had allegedly stolen an undisclosed number of tools from a local resident. McNew said the caller also informed officers that Corey was driving a white Chevrolet Impala and stated that if she was seen at Southland Motel she would be there to “cook meth.”

Howell said DTF agent Scott Walden noticed a vehicle matching the description of Corey’s car pulling into Southland Motel. As Walden approached Corey, Howell said, she fled on foot and locked herself inside room 19 at the motel.

“She ran into the room and locked the door,” Howell said. “We gained entry to the room and they gave us consent to search.”

Howell said officers recovered tablets of Pseudoephedrine, a receipt for the tablets from a Rite Aid pharmacy, Zanex pills, coffee filters with methamphetamine inside them and tools believed to have been used to remove Lithium strips from batteries for the purposes of manufacturing methamphetamines.

All four suspects were charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime and possession of drug paraphernalia. Officers said other charges could follow.

All four suspects were transported to the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton and, as of Tuesday, remained in jail, each on $500,000 bond.