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2011-02-10

BCSO deputies stumble onto meth lab

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

While serving an arrest warrant last week, deputies with the Bandera County Sheriff's Office got more than they bargained for after stumbling onto what was later described as "a substantial clandestine methamphetamine lab."
According to Chief Deputy Richard Smith, at 7:49 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 1, Deputies Moses Fredin and Steven Christopher were executing a felony arrest warrant on Ricky Alvin Gay at his home in Lakehills. Ironically, Gay was wanted for possession and manufacture of methamphetamine.
When deputies entered the suspect's residence on Cherokee Trail with the warrant, Gay immediately fled out the back door. The officers were left facing what they soon recognized as a large quantity of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine - and with three additional suspects.
After assessing the situation, the officers rounded up the trio and led them out of the house. Fredin called for backup and a warrant, signed by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Herschel Moore, was obtained to search the home.
When the all-night operation and clean-up was completed, Alexis Sheeds, 23, of Lakehills; Robert Sheeds, 28, of Corpus Christi; and Edward Gould, 52, of Lakehills, had been taken into custody, charged with multiple felonies.
Alexis Sheeds was arrested on three misdemeanor counts of possessing a dangerous drug, along with felony manufacture and delivery of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance, felony possession of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance and being in possession of chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine - also a felony.
Her husband was taken into custody and charged with felony manufacture and delivery of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance, felony possession of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance and felony possession of certain chemicals. In addition, Robert Sheeds was arrested on two outstanding felony warrants to revoke his probation. As of press time, the Sheeds remain incarcerated in the Bandera County Jail.
Gould was charged with felony manufacture and delivery of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance, felony possession of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance and felony possession of certain chemicals. He was released on Wednesday, Feb. 3, on three bonds - two for $20,000 and another for $15,000.
Gay, meanwhile, remains in the wind.
According to Smith, items confiscated in the raid read like an inventory of a toxic waste dump rather than something people would willingly put into their bodies. "I can't believe people would actually be taking this stuff if they knew what was used to make it," he said.
Typical ingredients used to make methamphetamine include red phosphorous from match heads that, when combined with iodine, yield a highly controlled substance called hydriodic acid. It takes nearly four bottles of iodine to produce two to three grams of methamphetamine.
Other ingredients include acetone, Drano, brake fluid, ephedrine-based products such as Sudafed, an over-the-counter decongestant; lighter fluid; hydrochloric or muriatic acid; sodium hydroxide; ether; and anhydrous ammonia. Alternatively, meth cookers often use battery acid, paint thinner, gasoline and kerosene.
During the bust, deputies also confiscated a quantity of pharmaceutical drugs and syringes.
"They also found two two-liter bottles filled with 600 grams of liquid methamphetamine," Smith said, adding that, when processed, the liquid would produce 30 to 40 grams of meth that would sell for $100 a gram. Calling the bust "a major hit," he added, "We're talking a lot of dope."
Smith said the suspects had installed camera video monitors outside the residence and in the bedroom, where the lab was discovered. "The only problem was that the people who were supposed to be watching the video cameras were asleep on the bed when officers entered the house," he said.
In addition to Fredin and Christopher, county law enforcement officers who assisted with the operation included Lt. Allen Tucker, Sgt. Danny Bowermaster, Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Johnson, Cpl. DJ Nowlin, Cpl. David McGilvray and Deputies Casey Young and Arthur Griffin.