State police say two women ran a meth lab in the Greenfield trailer park where they lived with an infant, potentially exposing themselves, the baby and neighbors to toxic fumes and explosions.
They were not addicts, but came to Greenfield specifically to sell meth to “a network of people or places up here,” said Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III.
They were motivated by “profit and greed,” he added.
He was particularly disturbed that state police found a baby in the mobile home.
Police removed an 11-month-old and a 15-year-old when they raided the home in the North Creek Village Mobile Park on Saturday. The 15-year-old had not been living there, but the baby could have long-term damage from the toxic fumes generated in the process of concocting methamphetamine, Murphy said.
The fumes can cause brain damage, as well as damage to the lungs, eyes and esophagus.
It’s too soon to know whether the baby was affected, Murphy added.
Both children were placed in foster care, “where they will be much safer,” Murphy said.
State police entered the home with gas masks and special flame-retardant suits. Inside, they found three adults, all of whom they arrested.
Megan A. Howell, 28, and Marlinea G. South, 34, were arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, manufacture and possession of meth, and possession of items used to make the drug.
State police also arrested Bruce W. Tyler, 55, for allegedly bringing his 15-year-old son with him during a visit to the home.
Murphy said the boy had nothing do with the meth.
“He was just present while all this was going on,” Murphy said.
Tyler was arrested on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
Murphy said the entire situation was unusual — normally meth cookers do not live where they make the meth because the chemicals are so volatile. Explosions are common.
It’s also unusual for cookers to bring their children to the site, because of the blast danger and because the materials are so poisonous. And putting a meth lab in the middle of a trailer park isn’t normal either.
“This is a rare thing,” Murphy said, adding that the women were caught when other residents reported the strong smell emanating from the mobile home.
“Normally we see it in pretty rural areas because it does give off a pretty strong odor,” he said. “Neighbors wondered what the smell was, what was going on in there. People who live in that park, they have children. They’re proud of their neighborhood. They don’t want things like this. We’re glad they tipped law enforcement off.”
Several of the mobile homes nearby would have been in the “blast radius” if the meth lab had exploded, Murphy added.
The state police in gas masks and flame-retardant suits removed the volatile chemicals. Then a second team, wearing splash-guard suits, removed the rest of the chemicals needed to make the meth.
Authorities also hired a toxic waste hauler from Vermont to remove many pounds of chemicals found in the trailer, as well as all of the glass containers, mixing bowls and other implements. It cost “tens of thousands of dollars” to clean the area, he said.
Only after all that could troopers finally enter the mobile home to gather the “normal” evidence, Murphy said.
He said evidence indicated they were cooking “mass quantities” of meth but not using it themselves.
“They were not users. They were preying on others to get them addicted and to make money, allegedly,” he said.
It’s not clear where Howell and South lived before moving to Greenfield. Murphy said both of them moved here from outside the Capital Region, with South coming from the state of Florida.
Howell was last arrested in the area in 2006, in Malta on charges of DWI, speeding and unlicensed operation after a minor accident. She reported then that she lived in Brooklyn.
South was also last arrested in this area in 2006, when she reported that she lived in Malta. She was arrested on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.