A methamphetamine lab in a Super 8 motel room north of Manassas was broken up after drug manufacturers were ratted out Tuesday by an informant, Prince William police said.
Acting on a tip from a sheriff’s deputy in Smyth County, officers and federal agents entered rooms 274 and 272 at the motel on Wednesday, where they say three men were operating an active drug lab.
The motel is at 7249 New Market Court just south of Interstate 66 off Balls Ford Road.
Shawn Howell, 21, of Saltville, was charged with manufacturing methamphetamines. Mike Allison, 46, of Chilhowie, was also charged with manufacturing methamphetamines and was wanted on 16 outstanding felony warrants for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamines. Ronnie Davidson, 32, of Saltville, was charged with manufacturing methamphetamines and violation of probation. He is a convicted drug dealer, according to court records.
Saltville and Chilhowie are near Bristol in the southwestern corner of Virginia, less than an hour from the Tennessee border and about a six hour drive from Prince William County.
Davidson and Allison were staying in Prince William County while working on a construction job. Their room was paid for by their boss and registered in his name. According to an officer, the boss had no knowledge of the alleged lab.
An informant told Sgt. Danny Waddle, an investigator with the Smyth County Sheriff’s office, that he knew two people that were manufacturing methamphetamines, or meth, with materials purchased from Wal-Mart.
The informant was able to tell Waddle in which rooms Allison and Davidson stayed, Prince William police said. That person, unidentified in court papers filed Wednesday, also told investigators the manufacturing materials the suspects purchased. The materials included Sudafed, acetone, matches and lithium batteries, said Prince William police Detective Dennis Mangan.
The recipe is typical, Waddle said. Meth is easy to make with items that are widely available.
“We’re busting people everyday down here with it,” Waddle said. “It’s just the drug of choice. It’s very prevalent in this area.”
Meth mimics the sensation crack-cocaine produces, Waddle said. A normal batch will keep a user awake for four days; a more potent batch can do the same for between eight and 10 days. The physical price users pay, however, is substantial, he added, saying it “destroys the system.”
Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration were brought in to clear evidence from the alleged lab; chemical conditions inside make work extremely hazardous.
Meth manufacturers run the risk of causing an explosion every time they “cook” a batch. The drug makers were not only putting themselves in danger, they were risking the lives of the people who stayed in the motel, Waddle said.
Signs posted by the DEA on the front doors of the motel Wednesday alerted those staying there about the presence of a clandestine drug lab and warned conditions could still be dangerous. The west wing of the structure was evacuated until mid-day Wednesday as officers waited for a team to remove the chemicals seized by federal agents, Mangan said.
A woman whose son was taken away from the motel by Prince William police at 1 p.m. Wednesday refused to comment, saying she “had no information about anything.”
Motel manager Mark Chi was not in Wednesday afternoon and did not return calls for comment.
The alleged meth lab is the second notable drug-related incident at the motel in less than a month.
Manassas City police filed a search warrant affidavit Wednesday to search a Mazda seized during a September cocaine bust at the Super 8.
A woman at the Prince William-Manassas regional jail, who police say used the car, told officers that narcotics were hidden in the air bag compartment.
Prince William police said the cases are unrelated.