UNICOI — A Thursday morning accident led to the arrest of a Unicoi man for the alleged manufacture of methamphetamine.
Clinton Cody Cooper, 25, 5109 Unicoi Drive, was charged with improper registration, leaving the scene of an accident, possession of drug paraphernalia and manufacture of methamphetamine.
Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said a single-vehicle accident was reported around 8:40 a.m. Thursday. Cooper, the owner of the vehicle, had struck a tree near the intersection of Unicoi Drive and Springbrook Road and had left the scene and his vehicle behind.
Deputies were sent to 5109 Unicoi Drive, the property being rented by Cooper, to conduct a welfare check. Hensley said investigators also previously had information that drug activity was taking place at the property.
“We’ve had this as a target,” Hensley said. “It just went a little quicker than we thought. We had to step things up because of the accident. And we wanted to make sure he was OK. That was my main concern.”
Police noticed trash containing precursors for meth scattered outside the residence, Hensley said. The door to the residence was open, and officers observed meth generators with attached hoses and other items associated with the “shake and bake” manufacture method inside the home. Hensley said there had also been a fire inside the residence, where the bottles used in the manufacture process were seen.
Based on Cooper being involved in an accident, coupled with what officers observed at the property, deputies had cause to enter the residence, Hensley said. Cooper was found hiding in the attic. Invesitgators also found drug paraphernalia components, including spoons and syringes, throughout the residence. An outbuilding behind the residence contained components of a meth lab.
Cooper was arrested around 10 a.m. Erwin police assisted at the scene, and the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force truck was called out.
Hensley said the property may have to be quarantined, but it would be up to the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force to make that determination. He also said the investigation was ongoing.
Cooper is scheduled to appear Friday in Unicoi County Sessions Court.