On 05/06/15 at approximately 6am, the Macomb Police Department, along with assistance from the Illinois State Police Tactical Response Team, the Illinois State Police Meth Response Team, the McDonough County Sherriff’s Office, the West Central Illinois Task Force, the Illinois National Guard Civil Support Team and the Western Illinois University Office of Public Safety, served a search warrant at 518 N. Johnson Street in Macomb.
Investigations into activities at the residence lead to Macomb detectives obtaining a search warrant for the residence in relation to the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Due to the nature of the criminal activity and the volatile environment that manufacturing methamphetamine creates, officials decided to utilize the ISP Tactical Response Team as well as the ISP Meth Response Team.
Upon entering the residence officers encountered three adults and four children. Three adults from the residence were taken into custody and charged. The children were taken into protective custody and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was contacted. There were also two dogs inside the residence that were turned over to McDonough County Animal Control.
Once the house was secured, members of the ISP Meth Response Team then entered the house in protective gear to monitor the air quality and environment and to begin a search of the residence. The Macomb Fire Department was called to the scene to vent fumes from the residence and stood by in gear with hoses ready while the MRT removed the active meth labs.
Arrested as a result of the search warrant was:
Charles Z. Bittner, m/w, age 36
Wendy Huston, f/w, age 33
Both subjects were charged with Manufacture of Methamphetamine 15-100 grams. More charges are pending.
Laurie Castle, f/w, age 37
Unlawful Procurement of meth precursors 15-30 grams
Also arrested as part of this investigation was Melinda Burnett, f/w, age 44 for Unlawful Procurement of meth precursors 15-30 grams.
This investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible.
The chemicals used to produce methamphetamine are extremely hazardous. Some are highly volatile and may ignite or explode if mixed or stored improperly. Fire and explosion pose risks not only to the individuals producing the drug but also to anyone in the surrounding area, including children, neighbors, and passersby.
Even when fire or explosion does not occur, methamphetamine production is dangerous. Simply being exposed to the toxic chemicals used to produce the drug poses a variety of health risks, including intoxication, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, lack of coordination, pulmonary edema, serious respiratory problems, severe chemical burns, and damage to internal organs.
Inhaling chemical vapors and gases resulting from methamphetamine production causes shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain. Exposure to these vapors and gases may also cause intoxication, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, lack of coordination, pulmonary edema, chemical pneumonitis, and other serious respiratory problems when absorbed into the body through the lungs.
The chemicals used to produce methamphetamine may cause serious burns if they come into contact with the skin.
Toxic chemicals can be ingested either by consuming contaminated food or beverages or by inadvertently consuming the chemicals directly. (Young children present at laboratory sites are at particular risk of ingesting chemicals.) Ingesting toxic chemicals–or methamphetamine itself–may result in potentially fatal poisoning, internal chemical burns, damage to organ function, and harm to neurological and immunologic functioning.
In addition, methamphetamine production threatens the environment. The average methamphetamine laboratory produces 5 to 7 pounds of toxic waste for every pound of methamphetamine produced. Operators often dispose of this waste improperly, simply by dumping it near the laboratory. This can cause contamination of the soil and nearby water supplies.