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April 30, 2013

2 charged with operating Meyersdale meth lab

SOMERSET — Two Meyersdale residents accused of operating a methamphetamine lab from their Summit Township apartment were jailed Tuesday.

State police from the Somerset barracks charged Jordan O’Donnell, 22, and Matthew Bowman, 29, after authorities raided their apartment in the 7000 block of Mason Dixon Highway just before 2 a.m.

Tenants in nearby apartments were evacuated because of the potentially volatile material used in manufacturing crystal meth, which resembles crack cocaine, police said.

Troopers and the state police Clandestine Laboratory Response Team from Harrisburg executed a search warrant and seized material they said was used for making meth.

Typically, over-the-counter medications and dangerous ingredients like Coleman fuel, antifreeze and battery acid are used to make meth.

“They (the troopers) were very deliberate and cautious,” District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said at a news conference held at the police barracks Tuesday afternoon.

“A situation that could have been very volatile was avoided,” she said.

Troopers also seized 20 packets of heroin and drug paraphernalia.

State and local police are working together to battle the growing drug problem as more meth labs pop up.   

“This doesn’t resolve the heroin problem, the meth problem, in Somerset County but it most certainly puts a dent into it,” said the station commander, Sgt. Greg Keefer.

Bowman and O’Donnell were arraigned by on-call District Judge Sandra Stevanus of Confluence and sent to the Somerset County Jail.

Bowman is being held on $125,000 bond and O’Donnell on $75,000 bond.

According to a criminal compliant filed by police, O’Donnell told investigators that that he cooked meth about four times a month using the “one-pot method.”

That method allows meth makers to use a one liter plastic pop bottle rather than several containers, Cpl. William Link said.

“It’s pretty much the same ingredients, but there are fewer steps in the process,” Link said.

The one-pot typically takes up to nine hours to manufacture crystal meth, which can then be sold for $100 a gram, Link said.

Plastic bottles and other materials were carted away from the apartment.

“That’s all considered hazardous material,” Keefer said. “The meth lab people take it as evidence and they destroy it.”

Authorities said an unrelated investigation provided information that led them to the meth lab.

State police on Monday charged 33-year-old George William Smith Jr., 23-year-old Jennifer Nicole Fullem and 48-year-old Debra Ann Custer in connection with a forgery case. The three are accused of forging a check to buy a chain saw and then selling the saw to buy heroin and meth.

Authorities believe that shutting down the Meyersdale meth lab sends a powerful message to meth makers in Somerset County.

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