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April 6, 2013

Police close meth lab after tip from resident

NEW CASTLE — An observant Ellwood City resident tipped off police to an apparent meth lab operation on the city’s north side.

Officers arrested Richard Brian Lumley, 43, of Rear 332 Orchard Ave., and Timothy Bill Locke, 32, of 3336 Hollow Road.

Each is charged with manufacture and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, manufacture of liquefied ammonia gas, operating a methamphetamine lab and illegal dumping of methamphetamine waste, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, conspiracy to manufacture or possess a controlled substance with intent to deliver, conspiracy to manufacture liquefied ammonia gas, conspiracy to operate a methamphetamine lab and illegally dump methamphetamine waste, conspiracy to possess a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess drug paraphernalia.

They were arraigned before District Judge Jerry Cartwright and jailed on $250,000 bond each.

According to police, officers were told the electricity had been shut off for some time at a house in the 300 block of Orchard Avenue, but a resident said he could see a flame inside the darkened building. The resident told police “a foul, noxious odor” was coming from the house and alerted police that the two men were “cooking meth.”

Police said they went to the location — which is just three blocks away from an elementary school — at 11:40 p.m. Wednesday. Through a window, an officer observed Locke at the kitchen stove working with a heating element, lantern and other materials.

Police said one officer knocked on the front door. It was answered by Lumley who told police he “wasn’t doing anything” and invited the officer into the house to look.

As he did so, police said, the officer standing outside watching Locke in the kitchen, said he saw Locke grab a clear bottle containing a white crystalline substance and run toward the back of the house, then joined the others.

In checking the house for other inhabitants, the officer said, he observed materials and equipment used in the production of methamphetamine in the kitchen. He also found the bottle he had seen Locke hide, he added.

After Lumley and Locke were taken into custody, police contacted the Ellwood City fire department to help to dispose of flammable substances. A county detective and a team of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency also were notified to oversee the cleanup.

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