Tip leads to meth lab raid Man arrested after agents search apartment in Valdosta

VALDOSTA — A tip from a concerned citizen of suspicious behavior led to the arrest of a Valdosta man in connection with the manufacture of methamphetamine Thursday.

At approximately 5:30 p.m., in the 1800 block of North Ashley Street at the Studio Courtyard, members of the Valdosta Police Department  Narcotics Unit executed a warrant at apartment 110.

Stephen Smith, 43, was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of tools for the commission of a crime, according to officers. All three charges are felonies.

According to Valdosta Police Department Commander Brian Childress, the meth lab was not operational at the time of the execution of the warrant.

C.A.R.E. Environmental Corp. responded to the scene to manage the hazardous nature of the materials. C.A.R.E. completed the cleanup Friday.

“We believe there was no significant danger to other residents; however, they did evacuate the surrounding apartments as a precaution,” said Childress. “We were able to shut down a potentially dangerous lab because of the actions of a concerned citizen and we appreciate them.”

The federal government cut funding for cleaning meth lab sites some months ago, but C.A.R.E. performs the service for free for area law enforcement agencies, Childress said. The cleaning usually costs from $2,000 to $10,000 per site, he said.

Studio Courtyard manager Sandy Matthews described bizarre behavior prior to the arrest.Smith, who moved into the apartment complex in November, was approached by Matthews when he flooded his room after he fell asleep with the shower running.

“He opened the door about three inches and had his goggles on, his hat backwards, he was soaked down with water and was wearing swimming trucks,” she said.

Matthews said he was a good tenant who paid his bills on time, but when his roommate left a few weeks ago, the suspicious behavior became apparent.

“I could just smell a bunch of chemicals and had a bad feeling about something,” she said. “I started smelling ammonia, ether and then that resin stuff and everything else.”

She said she did not make the call to police officers.

“I just don’t put up with any drug dealers or anything else at Studio Courtyard,” she said.

The suspect is currently being held in Lowndes County Jail. No other suspects were arrested at the scene

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