Meth cleanup continues from Carter Co. 'super lab'

John Thompson • Nov 27, 2013 at 12:51 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Sheriff's Department continued Wednesday to detoxify and clean up the remains of what has been described as the largest clandestine methamphetamine laboratory ever found in Carter County.

The lab was discovered on Tuesday, and trained agents began the clean up process. Sheriff Chris Mathes called a halt to the process as it became dark because of the hazardous working conditions in the home which did not have electricity or water.

One man has been arrested in the raid. Timothy Lee Blackwell, 43, was charged with six counts of initiation of methamphetamine manufacture, promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, possession of felony drug paraphernalia ad aggravated burglary, possession of schedule I drug, violation of probation and attachment for child support.

Blackwell made a brief appearance in Sessions Court on Wednesday. Judge Jonn Walton appointed a public defender for him and set Blackwell's next appearance for Monday.

Sheriff Mathes said Blackwell is known by his deputies, but said he appeared to be doing better in recent months. Then, the department began receiving reports of alleged drug activity involving Blackwell.

The drug bust came after two weeks of surveillance. The investigation led to a vacant house at 8377 Highway 19E in Roan Mountain. The investigators also knew that Blackwell was already wanted by the sheriff's department on on charges of possession of schedule I narcotic, a Juvenile Court paper regarding child support and violation of probation.

During the surveillance of the house on Tuesday, officers observed a small maroon vehicle drive up the driveway and then come back down toward the highway. An investigator followed the car to a oarge green metal building and saw a man standing outside.

The investigator discovered the man was Timothy Blackwell's father, Robert Blackwell. The investigator explained his reason for being there and requested a consent to search the house and building. Robert Blackwell agreed to the search. Sgt. Harmon Duncan was then called to assist in the search.

The father said he did not allow his son to live in the house. He said he had not entered the residence in over a year.

Robert Blackwell told them he had the only keys to the house and the power and water had been disconnected for over a year.

In the outbuilding, the investigators found an old one=pot methamphetamine lab. After that, they went to the house. Robert Blackwell attempted to open the front and rear doors, but was unable to open them because they had been barricaded from the inside. An open window was then located, which provided access to the house.

Once inside, the officers began clearing the house, observing more than 50 one-pot bottles and gas generator bottles in various parts of the house. Timothy Blackwell was found upstairs. He was taken into custody and escorted outside the house.

Clandestine lab technicians from the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Fore and the Carter County Sheriff's Department entered the house in full protective gear and assessed the amount of one-pot cook botles and gas generator bottles there were inside the house. They determined there were more than 100.

The officer in charge of the state task force said his team could not handle the large size of the lab and said a larger outside agency shoud be requested to respond in order to remove all the hazardous material.

At that point, Sheriff Mathes said he requested a hazardous materials team from Knoxville to respond on Wednesday.

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