DEA, Sheriff's Office charge 4 in connection with meth lab in St. Lucie

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Four people were arrested Tuesday after law enforcement officials served a search warrant at an apparent methamphetamine manufacturing location on Tumblin Kling Road just west of U.S. 1, according to affidavits released Wednesday.

St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials about 1:20 p.m. searched an address in the 500 block of Tumblin Kling Road.

Listed residents David Selph and Babette Bishop, both 43, each were arrested on felony counts of amphetamine manufacturing and amphetamine possession and a single misdemeanor count each of possession of drug paraphernalia. They were identified as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Richard Cook, 22, of the 4900 block of Elm Avenue in Fort Pierce, and Bryan Kelley, 25, of the 2400 block of Southwest Roney Road in Port St. Lucie, each were arrested on a felony methamphetamine manufacturing charge. Kelley also was arrested on a possession of drug paraphernalia charge.

Kelley was identified as the primary meth cook, who "directed others as to the time line of when it was possible to make more purchases of pseudoephedrine by others."

Pseudoephedrine can be used in making meth.

Sheriff's Detective Andrew Bolonka said Wednesday that federal rules are in place that govern the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased within 30 days. Purchases of more than 9 grams within 30 days, he said, are not allowed.

Bolonka said people must provide identification when buying pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter medication. In many cases, he said, it's kept behind the counter at pharmacies.

Bolonka said sometimes several people will buy pseudoephedrine to bring back to the cook.

Selph tried 44 times to buy pseudoephedrine in five months, while Bishop made 25 attempts, affidavits state. Kelley made 34 attempts in seven months and Cook made 12 tries in three months, affidavits state.

About a gram of meth was recovered in Selph's and Bishop's bedroom.

Bolonka said a gram of cocaine could be used by a person in a day, while the same amount of meth could get several people high for three or more days.

"That's how potent and strong it is," Bolonka said, noting it is highly addictive.

Kelley declined to speak with investigators, who turned up reaction vessels, hoses, powders and liquids.

Selph said he allowed Kelley to "perform the cook process on the porch area of the house only." Selph said Kelley was the main cook and instructed others how to make meth.

In recent months, police in Port St. Lucie have shut down a number of meth labs, as has Bolonka's agency.

"All of the sudden we've been getting a lot of information on this type of activity (meth use and production)," Bolonka said. "We haven't really experienced that in this county, and now all of the sudden it's kind of reared its ugly head on us."

Bolonka didn't know the reason for the uptick, although it could be because of a crackdown on prescription pills, such as oxycodone, and the low cost to make meth.

"It's made with household items and you can make it in an hour and a half in the kitchen of your house," Bolonka said.

Bolonka said his agency partners with the DEA in meth lab cases because the DEA has the funds and expertise to dismantle them.

"It's a very hazardous investigation because of the chemicals and the gases and the explosive nature of these type of labs," he said.

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