ADDU uncovers meth operation in local home

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY -- The Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit confiscated thousands of dollars worth of illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia and equipment used to make fake IDs during a raid of an Albany home Monday that ADDU Commander Maj. Bill Berry described as part of a "very organized operation."

Michael Leroy Anthony, 48, and Noleen Anthony, 40, were arrested at the 2242 Duitman Road residence in an operation by the drug unit's Clandestine Lab Response Team. In a news conference Tuesday, Berry outlined the charges against the two:

-- Possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute;

-- Possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school;

-- Criminal intent to manufacture methamphetamine;

-- Possession of more than 9 grams (felony level) of altered ephedrine or psuedoephedrine.

Berry said forgery, possession of other unknown illegal substances -- including possible heroin -- and firearms charges could be added to those brought against the Anthonys, pending an ongoing investigation.

"From information we received on the street and from doing our homework, we started looking at this place five or six weeks ago," Berry said. "Things came together very fast, and with the information we had, we hit the place (Monday) at around 10:30 a.m.

"Once our officers determined there were materials in the residence used in making meth, even though it was not an active lab at the time, we went in with the highest level of response. We had hazardous materials personnel with the fire department respond, along with EMS in case of injury."

In addition to materials used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, ADDU officers found 32.5 grams of crystal meth, 151.6 grams of marijuana, 1.4 grams of powder cocaine, a .22-caliber rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, a .38-caliber Rossi revolver, $1,254 in cash, a computer, a laptop, camera and hologram material used to make fake Georgia driver's licenses.

"These folks were well-organized; this was no fly-by-night operation," Berry said. "To have in your possession more than 9 grams of ephedrine that has been altered -- usually for the manufacture of meth -- is a felony, and they had 968 grams. We think they made fake IDs so they could purchase large amounts of cold medicines that contain ephedrine without showing up on meth-check, which notes the purchases of such medicines.

"Given the diversity and the organization of this operation, we have every reason to think there are others involved. We're following up on leads to that effect right now."

Berry said a large assortment of prescription medication pills, a liquid substance that looked like children's cough syrup and a brown powder that "has the appearance of Mexican heroine" were being sent to a crime lab for positive identification. If those substances prove to be illegal, more charges will be filed against the Anthonys.

The ADDU commander said the weapons confiscated had not been reported stolen but ATF agents would trace them to determine their history.

"(The suspects) were surprised when we came in, but they lawyered up real quick," Berry said. "They seemed more concerned about their dogs than anything else, but we took care of them. They were communicating online with someone from Australia when we came in, and when those folks saw what was happening here, they mooned us.

"We plan to get search warrants for their computer to see if we can find anything that links others to this bunch."

Berry said the drug unit is concerned about the growing number of meth busts in the region.

"At one point it seemed that we'd gotten a good grip on meth here, but things are starting to pick up again," he said. "Last year there were just over 300 meth busts in Georgia, but Mississippi -- which is a much smaller state -- had double that. These things tend to move from the west to the east, so I think we'll be seeing more of these.

"Meth is a powerful drug, and it knows no economic, social, racial or gender barriers."