A woman who worked as a special education aide in southern Alabama was one of two people arrested recently when authorities raided her home following a long investigation by the county sheriff’s drug task force.
Our Birmingham criminal defense lawyersunderstand the defendant is charged with first-degree manufacturing of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
This is a very serious situation.
Alabama Code Section 13A-12-218 holds that manufacture of a controlled substance in the first-degree is a Class A felony. That means the maximum potential punishment is life in prison.
What separates the first-degree charge from other lesser designations is the presence of one of the following:
- A firearm;
- A booby trap;
- The illegal disposal, transportation or possession of any dangerous or hazardous material in furtherance of a clandestine laboratory operation, which posed a serious risk to either the environment or human health and safety;
- A clandestine laboratory operation that was within 500 feet of a home, business, school or church;
- A clandestine laboratory that was found to have produced a specified amount of a controlled substance;
- A clandestine laboratory that produced either Schedule I or Schedule II narcotics;
- There was a person under the age of 17 who was there during the process of the manufacturing.
In this case, the teacher’s aide reportedly was producing the methamphetamine, which is a Schedule 1 or Class A narcotic, per the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1975. Her co-defendant was charged with the same, and he has a prior conviction for second-degree manufacture of a controlled substance. He had recently completed a three-year prison term and was still completing his five years’ worth of probation when this arrest occurred.
Additional charges could be filed against other individuals as well, as the investigation is ongoing.
Authorities say they had been investigating activities at the home, where the woman’s 26-year-old special needs daughter also lives, for some time. Investigators said there was evidence of a red phosphorus methamphetamine-producing laboratory in both the attic and the main living room area.
While any kind of methamphetamine lab has the potential to be dangerous, red phosphorus is particularly risky because it emits toxic gases during the cooking process. This kind of operation is sometimes referred to a “shake-n-bake” laboratory – something officials say is not as common in Alabama as other kinds of clandestine meth labs.
This incident happened in Baldwin County, where methamphetamine continues to be the No. 1 drug issue right now, according to investigators.
A law passed by state legislators last year focused on making it more difficult to get the products necessary to produce methamphetamine – specifically, pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter cold medication that is considered a critical ingredient. Individuals who try to bypass the state’s minimum limit law by recruiting dozens of people to hit up one store to the next – a practice called “smurfing” – now face a felony charge.
Alabama is a member of the National Precursor Log Exchange, which allows pharmacies to track purchases of the drugs.
So far, two states in the country, including Mississippi, have made pseudoephedrine prescription only.