Meth labs found close together; arrests made

PARKERSBURG – Methamphetamine lab discoveries, along with two arrests, were made by the Parkersburg Violent Crime and Narcotics Task Force, officials said Friday.

Two meth labs were discovered by officials in Parkersburg within 48 hours of each other, said West Virginia State Police Cpl. C. A. Blevins, task force coordinator for the Parkersburg Violent Crime and Narcotics Task Force.

Earl McElfresh, 40, of 1012 1/2 George St. and Robert Patterson, 31, of 1330 Dillaway St. were each arrested on a charge of operating a clandestine drug lab, Blevins said. Patterson was arrested on Thursday, and McElfresh was arrested on Friday, he said.

One meth lab was discovered in the early morning on Thursday at 1330 Dillaway St. in Parkersburg, said Blevins. The second lab was discovered at 8 a.m. Friday at 1012 1/2 George St. in Parkersburg, Blevins said. The two locations are within blocks of each other, near Seventh Street.

Each meth lab ranks among the largest discovered in recent years, Blevins said. The George Street discovery contained nine reactionary vessels, while the Dillaway Street location revealed 15 reactionary vessels, Blevins said.

The reactionary vessel is one of the primary pieces of equipment for the creation of methamphetamines.

The Dillaway Street lab had been under investigation for some time, Blevins said. Agents with the Parkersburg Violent Crime and Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant at the address and discovered 15 reactionary vessels, along with items used in the manufacturing process of meth, Blevins said.

Calls to the Parkersburg Police Department alerted officials to the suspected drug activity at the home, Blevins said.

The George Street lab was discovered by Parkersburg sanitation workers when they observed smoke coming from a trash bag that had been set out for collection, Blevins said. When agents investigated the trash bags, they discovered items used in the manufacturing of meth inside, he said.

The trash bags revealed eight reactionary vessels, pseudoephedrine and needles, Blevins said. Agents with the task force identified the residence the bags had come from, and McElfresh consented to a property search, Blevins said. Agents discovered an additional reactionary vessel and additional meth manufacturing items inside the home, he said.

Both suspects were arraigned on charges of operating a clandestine lab: Patterson on Thursday and McElfresh on Friday, Blevins said. If convicted, each man could face a sentence of 2-10 years in prison.

Patterson failed to make a $100,000 bond, and McElfresh failed to make a $150,000 bond. Both are being housed at the North Central Regional Jail.