A man and woman have been arrested and issued an aggravated drug trafficking charge after a meth lab bust at 50 Elm St. on Friday morning — located just two houses away from the police station.

Both people arrested were charged with aggravated trafficking in Schedule W drugs (methamphetamine), a Class A crime. The charge was elevated from a Class B crime due to the proximity to Morse High School.

Arrested were James Scheider, 38, and Stacey Dykes, 36 — both of Chiefland, Fla. Dykes is originally from Bath but has been living in Florida for several years.

According to a press release issued by Bath Police Department, “For the past several days detectives from the Bath Police Department, Sagadahoc County Sheriff ’s Office, and MDEA conducted an investigation into the illegal manufacturing of methamphetamine from a foreclosed, multi-unit apartment building at 50 Elm St.

“The investigation revealed that two people had moved from Florida and taken up residence in an abandoned apartment at 50 Elm St. Bath police officers recognized several items indicative of the manufacturing of methamphetamine and contacted agents from the Mid-Coast District Task Force for assistance.”

Agents obtained a search warrant for Apt. 3, located on the second floor of the apartment building, which was executed at around 10:30 a.m. Friday. Bath officers and agents located two people in the apartment who were detained without incident. While in the apartment agents observed a container that appeared to be an active, “One Pot” laboratory. Officers immediately evacuated the apartment building and secured the area.

Scott Pelletier, the Division I commander for the MDEA, said at the scene Friday that once agents detained the suspects, they saw other items including two “active one-pots” — drugs made in small vessels like soda and water bottles and characterized as active because “they can actually see the chemicals in there ‘rolling.’ They actually move around and that’s because there’s lithium from batteries they put in there, which is extremely flammable.”

The laboratories are small and can fit inside a backpack, Pelletier said, but can be highly explosive. There was no evidence of manufacturing for distribution, he said, and agents believe the two were making the methamphetamine for their own use.

Asked about the close proximity of the meth labs to the police station, it illustrates the depth of the power addiction, Pelletier said, and the fact that the two “could literally look out the window and see the police department shows you the strength of what addiction does to you. We are always concerned for any type of these labs because not only the manufacturing but the byproducts — the disposal of it — when they’re done cooking it, there’s still toxic chemicals,” such as the lithium from batteries that is mixed with gasoline. Lithium doesn’t do well on moisture, he said, so the firefighters on scene stood by ready with foam and water, “because if one of these guys started to burn,” the foam is needed to extinguish that type of fire.

Due to the extremely toxic and explosive nature of methamphetamine manufacturing, MDEA’s Clandestine Drug Laboratory Enforcement Team was activated and responded in order to safely dismantle and seize the clandestine laboratories.

Assisting the MDEA was Bath Fire Department and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP properly disposes of the hazardous waste related to the laboratories. Specially trained agents from around the state and a state chemist, armed in protective gear with specialized equipment, dismantled two of the “one pot” laboratories found in the apartment. They also retained samples of the laboratories for criminal prosecution in the future.

Pelletier said Friday, “We don’t think they’ve been here very long; only a couple of days and we haven’t seen a lot of evidence that they’ve been cooking a lot.” It may have been as few as only three times.

Evidence collected at the scene and facts of the investigation will be reviewed by the Maine Attorney General’s Office for charges.

Scheider and Dykes were transported to the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, where bail was set at $5,000 cash for each person. They have a court date set for Jan. 13, 2015.

Police say this is the third methamphetamine lab in Bath, one dismantled last year and the other in 2008. According to MDEA officials, this is the 25th methamphetamine lab-related incident the agency’s CDLET team has responded to this year. There were 20 incidents in 2013.

“I commend the work of the Bath Police Detective Division, the MDEA Mid- Coast Task Force, CDLET, and the Sagadahoc County Sheriff ’s office for their quick action in this investigation,” said Bath Police Chief Mike Field. “Their quick and decisive investigative work quite possibly prevented a tragedy in the multi-family apartment complex as well as kept large amounts of illicit drugs off our streets.”

Pelletier credited Bath police officers’ good police work for uncovering the operation. Additionally MDEA has been providing information to police on what to look for. One of the main reasons for the increase this year in meth lab responses by MDEA, despite a decrease in resources, he said, is that law enforcement, first responders and even the public are much more educated in what to look for in signs of a meth lab.

Methamphetamine manufacturing is a rising problem in Maine, Pelletier said. The MDEA is seeing more meth labs in northern Maine currently but right now, heroin and prescription opiates are the top drugs it is battling.

He added, “Drug use is on the rise for all of us.”

Third lab in Bath

POLICE SAY this is the third methamphetamine lab in Bath, one dismantled last year and the other in 2008. According to MDEA officials, this is the 25th methamphetamine lab-related incident the agency’s CDLET team has responded to this year. There were 20 incidents in 2013.

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