Athens County sheriff reports three drug busts in two days

Items seized at a home on Canal Street in Nelsonville (CREDIT: Athens County Sheriff)

ATHENS CO., Ohio (WCMH)–Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said his office removed two methamphetamine labs and arrested two people on drug charges last week.

The Athens Major Crimes Unit removed a meth lab on Jan. 7 in Glouster and one on Jan. 8 in Athens. The crimes unit and agents of the Hocking County Major Crimes Unit also arrested two people at a suspected drug trafficking operation in Nelsonville.

Taylor Ridge pic--Jan 7, 2016
Items recovered at Taylor Ridge Road in Glouster (CREDIT: Athens County Sheriff)

Sheriff Smith said the crimes unit removed the remnants of a “one pot” methamphetamine lab after responding to a report of a suspicious backpack on the side of Taylor Ridge Road in Glouster. Deputies identified the contents of the backpack as items commonly used in the manufacture of meth.

Agents with the AMCU recovered and neutralized a hydrogen chloride gas generator. Other items such as filters, funnels, and a household cleaning product commonly used as a part of the process of manufacturing meth, were recovered as well.

The next day, deputies responded to Happy Valley Trailer Park on Baker Road on a report of a suspicious backpack. Deputies identified the contents of the backpack as items commonly used in the manufacture of meth.

Items found at Happy Valley  (CREDIT: Athens County Sheriff)
Items found at Happy Valley (CREDIT: Athens County Sheriff)

Agents with the AMCU recovered, neutralized, and removed a functioning “one pot” methamphetamine lab. Other items such as filters, funnels and a household cleaning products commonly used as a part of the process of manufacturing methamphetamine were recovered as well. The sheriff’s office said this lab was at one of its most flammable points during the methamphetamine making process.

This lab had been placed into a backpack and hidden under a baby crib in a bedroom at the rear of the residence. It is estimated that the backpack had been hidden in this area since Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. During this time frame, three children of ages one to four were living at the residence and had been playing in the room that day before the residents found the backpack.

Sheriff Smith said his is the same residence that Benjamin O. Bellar was located in on Jan. 6. Bellar already has felony charges for manufacturing methamphetamine as a part of a prior AMCU investigation that started on Jan. 5. Investigation may link this new evidence to Bellar and result in additional charges.

Also on Friday, the Athens County Major Crimes Unit and Hocking County Major Crimes Unit investigated a suspected drug trafficking operation on Canal Street in Nelsonville and interviewed the residents. The sheriff’s office said that they began interviewing one of the residents, Rico Kesterson, who was on probation. While they were talking to him, they said, his wife Jennifer had two bags full of pills fall out of her pants leg. She was found to have a warrant for her arrest out of Hocking County, and was arrested. Rico Kesterson was jailed for violating his parole agreement.

“Approximately 85 pills, mostly suspected to be OxyContin 30 mg pills, were recovered,” Smith said in a news release. “They will be sent to an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) lab for
official identification. Upon further inspection by the Parole Officers, a recovery of approximately $1,460 in US currency, a small amount of marijuana, and a marijuana pipe. Three items of electronics were also discovered: two cell phones believed to have been used in drug transactions; a DVR that was recording security footage from four external cameras.”

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