Two arrested, child removed after meth lab discovered

The wave of meth lab seizures continues to crash on Sampson County, as another has been dismantled and more arrests made following the discovery of a lab on Pope Road, for which two people have been jailed and more charges are expected.

In recent weeks, several meth labs in Sampson have brought dozens of felony charges against individuals in separate cases, all of which have ended with those suspects placed in the Sampson County Detention Center under sizable bonds. This lab, found at 1122 Pope Road, brings a different twist.

Not only was a child found at the residence, but law enforcement had been there before — in 2012, when they found a meth lab.

On Friday, agents of the Sheriff’s Office’s Special Investigations Division assisted the Department of Social Services with a child welfare check at 1122 Pope Road, located off N.C. 403 (Faison Highway) just east of Clinton. DSS had received a complaint of a possible meth lab at the residence, where two small children lived, and requested the Sheriff’s Office assist them in their investigation.

Both agencies responded to the residence and, while there, SID agents detected a strong chemical odor coming from a large suitcase near the doorway. Sheriff’s officials said a child and all residents were removed from the home for safety and the odor was further investigated.

After a search warrant was obtained, it was discovered that the suitcase contained items to make meth. A further search of the residence also yielded items consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine in plain view near the back porch, as well as drug paraphernalia.

Shannon Marie Pope, 26, of 1122 Pope Road, Clinton, and Raymond Lindell Pope, 31, of 1299 Pope Road, Clinton, have each been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, four counts of possessing methamphetamine precursors with intent to manufacture methamphetamine and storage of hazardous waste without a permit.

Shannon Pope received additional charges of maintaining a dwelling for manufacture of a controlled substance and two counts of child abuse. Raymond Pope was charged with second degree trespass and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child.

The child was taken into DSS custody and turned over to a family member for proper care, authorities said.

It was not the first time they had been to that address on Pope Road, where a meth lab was previously discovered on Feb. 26, 2012.

According to previous Sampson Independent reports, sheriff and emergency personnel responding on that date found two men trying to hide in a pump house at the rear of the residence before the two exited and immediately tried to flee. After a foot pursuit, investigators captured both suspects and escorted them back to the residence. During the incident, an investigator was exposed to the fumes, became ill and had to be treated. Similarly, local firefighters were forced to decontaminate the two suspects due to their exposure, showing the dangers such operations pose.

The two men, a 31-year-old Faison man and a 23-year-old man of the Pope Road address were arrested and subsequently convicted in December 2012 in connection with the lab.

According to figures provided by the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, Friday’s meth lab bust brings the number of labs found in Sampson this year to 12. The county had nine in all of 2014. Both are still a far cry from the 27 labs Sampson saw in 2013, but the county has seen a rash in such incidents in a short time.

Of the dozen labs in 2015, four have been discovered and dismantled since Aug. 11 and two of those within two days of each other last week. Three people were arrested in connection with a lab found at 2411 Hunter Road, Clinton, on Wednesday, before Friday’s netted two more arrests.

Michael Lee Pope, 48, of 1122 Pope Road, Clinton, was also charged in connection with the Pope Road investigation, but not in connection with the lab. He was cited with possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance and released.

Bonds for Shannon and Raymond Pope were set at $150,000 apiece.

The case is still under investigation and more arrests are expected, authorities said.

“I would like to thank all agencies involved in this case,” Sheriff Jimmy Thornton stated, “and the citizens that were willing to bring forth the complaint.”