Meth bust in Washington offers insight into larger trends

Published 6:34 pm Thursday, December 13, 2018

On Tuesday, investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit charged Lori Murphy, 49, of 717 Dan Taylor Road in Washington with three counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, maintaining a dwelling place for the purpose of selling and storing a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to a press release from the BCSO, Murphy’s arrest was the result of investigators purchasing drugs, then executing a search warrant on her property. After the BCSO canine unit Bodi alerted during the search, investigators discovered 10.5 grams of meth, plastic bags used for packaging and two digital scales, the release stated.

“This investigation lasted for several months, and most of the time, we don’t end up arresting the individual until we know where everything’s coming from,” BCSO Drug Unit Lt. Russell Davenport said. “We know who her supplier is, and they’re not in Beaufort County. Once we identified who her supplier is, we go ahead and finish our investigation, because we don’t want any meth in Beaufort County.”

In this case, as in most others the BCSO Drug Unit has handled in recent years, the methamphetamine in question came into the community from an outside source. Davenport says this has become more of a trend in recent years, with fewer instances of meth being cooked locally.

“Before, we were getting a lot of meth labs,” Davenport said. “People were doing the ‘mom and pop’ labs and making their own meth and it was mainly for personal use and they would sell some to support their habit. But now, these same people have learned that they can get it imported in from other locations for cheaper than they can make it themselves.”

Davenport credited aggressive police work and a strong stance from the district attorney’s office for helping stem the tide of manufacturing in the county. In most cases, he says the people who have been arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine have ended up with prison sentences, effectively curbing local production.

“They know if they manufacture it, they’re definitely going to prison,” Davenport said. “It’s made it a lot easier for them to order it. In one case we had a month ago, they got it through the mail. It’s coming in from Mexico and the different cartels.”

In headlines across the country, these same cartels Davenport references are pinpointed as the source of methamphetamine coming into local communities. In turn, these cartels use intimidation and violence to keep an iron grip on their market in their home country, and are responsible for countless murders each year.

“The thing we try to do is we work in Beaufort County and try to keep Beaufort County clean and safe,” Davenport said. “A lot of people avoid coming to Beaufort County to sell drugs because they know we’re out there working it every day.”