Cleaning up meth labs cost county and businesses thousands

Published: Apr. 13, 2012 at 9:07 PM EDT|Updated: May. 13, 2012 at 9:07 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - It was not the first stop to cook meth for the suspects, Robert Catoe and Heather Latham in York County.  The Multi Jurisdictional Drug Task Force Commander Marvin Brown says they've discovered now six different motels in York County where they know the duo had been making the drugs.

He also told WBTV's Trent Faris through the course of the investigation that number could triple.

Brown said Catoe and Latham would check into the motels under aliases, moving their meth making materials around by van.

Friday, while she was cleaning the room the owner of the Hillside Motel told WBTV when Catoe and Latham checked in last week they told her they were moving to Rock Hill from Arizona and need a place to stay while they looked for a house to buy.

"They jumped from motel room to motel room cooking meth and we knew that so we tried to hone in on them to try and stop this before someone got hurt," said Brown

The owner who didn't want to be identified went on to say Latham would pay for their stay every day, and three days prior to the bust Catoe paid the bill.  The change prompted her to have her house keeper check on the room and nothing was out of the ordinary.

Thursday, after several days of surveillance the drug unit in York County moved in.

"We discovered there was an active meth lab in the hotel room," said Brown.

Thursday afternoon people from drug officers to hazmat personnel dressed up in chemical suits to enter the motel room at the Hillside Inn to clean up what drug officers are calling a mobile meth lab.

It took at least six people suited up to go in and remove chemicals.  Once used the suits have to be thrown away, never to be reused.

"Meth chemicals are highly flammable, it could explode while they're (the clean up crew) is in there working with it," said Brown.

Then Brown says a special clean-up crew out of Columbia was called in to make the dangerous chemicals safe to move.

"When we say clean the room we're not talking taking Lysol and cleaning it's taking the chemicals out of the room," said Brown.

Brown says to do their end of the clean up process costs around $3,000 to $5000.

To make the room habitable again is on the motel owners dime.  Friday, now that the chemicals are gone, but clean up was on going.

It's going to cost the owner $150 dollars to have the room specially cleaned top to bottom carpet and all.  Sheets, blankets and towels have to be thrown away and it'll cost $500 dollars to replace. The Mattresses box springs and the frames of bed cost $1000 each.

The Hillside owner says the furniture is still good, but will have to be cleaned thoroughly and the chair upholstery re-covered.

"For just two people to be in there cooking meth it costs a ton of money," said Brown.

He says things could have been much worse.  Last year the drug task force busted 10 meth lab operations in York County three of which blew up burning two homes and a garage to the ground.

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