SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A man authorities say used a rare and dangerous chemical process to manufacture meth was arrested Tuesday in Rowan County.
Thomas David Martinez, 27, faces numerous charges for manufacturing, possessing, and trafficking methamphetamine. Authorities say Martinez was involved in a large-scale meth operation in Rowan County.
Deputies say Martinez is known to investigators as "The Chemist" because of his chemistry background. Authorities say he used methods to manufacture meth which are rarely seen in North Carolina, including a processes known as the "Red P" method, which uses red phosphorous, and another process called "P2P," which uses platinum dioxide.
Police were tipped off Tuesday that Martinez was driving a red Pontiac and carrying meth and a weapon. After following Martinez from Megan Drive in Rockwell, deputies say they stopped his Pontiac on Dale Earnhardt Drive where a searched turned up 29 grams of meth and a loaded pistol.
After searching Martinez' apartment on Locke Street in Salisbury, investigators say they found a meth lab which used the Red P process.
The apartment is in a building next door to a church and just one block from Salisbury High School.
On Wednesday, investigators also searched a storage unit they say Martinez rented on W. Jake Alexander Blvd. in Salisbury. Officials say that search turned up more meth equipment, including items used in the P2P method, and the more common one-pot "shake and bake" method.
An SBI chemist and a site safety officer helped to process the scene. Officials called in hazardous waste disposal contractors help to remove the chemicals from the storage unit.
Martinez was placed under $250,000 bond. The list of charges include possession with intent to sell methamphetamine, trafficking methamphetamine by possession, trafficking methamphetamine by transportation, trafficking methamphetamine by manufacture, manufacture of methamphetamine, 2 counts of possession of meth precursor chemicals with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of concealed weapon.
Additional charges are pending against Martinez based on the equipment seized at the storage unit.
The Rowan County Sheriff's Office, NC State Bureau of Investigation, and Salisbury police participated in this investigation.