**UPDATE** BCSO busts meth lab, second lab foundPublished 1:30pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Second lab discovered in mini-storage unit
Methamphetamine made a rare appearance in Beaufort County this week when narcotics investigators found meth labs in a car trunk and a mini-storage facility.
Randall Burmeister, 48, and Susan Maloney, 56, were arrested by Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit investigators Monday night after a search revealed two labs in a garbage bag in the trunk of a car they’d borrowed from their landlord, according to Capt. Russell Davenport, head of the drug unit.
Further investigation would reveal four more complete meth labs in a mini-storage facility the couple had rented, Davenport said.
Davenport explained Burmeister and Maloney had come to the drug unit’s attention because the two were attempting to buy pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the drug’s production.
“We’ve been receiving information they had been trying to buy unusual amounts of pseudoephedrine,” Davenport said. “But we thought they had been turned away. We didn’t know we were dealing with an actual lab.”
Davenport said it became apparent what the drug unit was dealing with during the search, as soon as he moved the garbage bag in the trunk: it emitted toxic fumes he recognized as being consistent with meth production. The car and the River Road home where the couple was living was evacuated, roped off and officials with the Beaufort County Health Department and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation were alerted, Davenport said. Bunyan Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene as various chemicals used in meth production are highly volatile and explosive.
A later search of the home where the couple was living, as well as information provided by the River Road home’s owner, a friend of Maloney, led to further charges on Tuesday. In the couple’s bedroom, investigators found meth consistent with what would have been cooked in the discovered labs and a search of a mini-storage unit where they stored furniture turned up more labs, Davenport said.
Now both the residence and the mini-storage facility bear signs from the Beaufort County Health Department indicating the sites had been used as meth labs — both sites will require decontamination.
Methamphetamine use has spread across the U.S. from the west coast and Davenport said the eastern region has long been warned it was coming. But new law, and technology, seem to have slowed the westward trek: the law limits the amount of pseudoephedrine bought and technology keeps track of the amount purchased by an individual through NPLEx (National Precursor Log Exchange). NPLEx is a real-time electronic system used by pharmacies, and law enforcement, to track the sales of over-the-counter medications with pseudoephedrine.
Davenport said the drug unit’s last meth lab bust was in 2002 — this is only the fourth meth-production setup he’s seen in his 18 years with the sheriff’s office.
“This is one of the worst things we ever see,” Davenport said. “It’s been a long two days but it’s well worth it when you get people like this off the streets. These are the rewards of the job. … We’re just glad we have the skills and the resources to able to deal with this stuff.”
Maloney and Burmeister, both of whom recently moved to Washington from Illinois, have been charged with two counts of manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.