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Police investigate suspected meth lab in Watertown

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WATERTOWN — Police spent several hours Tuesday investigating a suspected methamphetamine lab in a duplex on William Street.

Detective Ronald E. Gatch of the Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force said the Jefferson County Probation Department got an anonymous tip about suspicious activity at 200 William St. and called the task force to investigate.

Detective Gatch said materials and equipment used in manufacturing methamphetamine were confiscated from the house. No one has been arrested, nor were police seeking anyone, he said. The property was turned back over to the tenants.

“It is an active investigation,” Detective Gatch said.

Unidentified tenants cooperated in the probe, which began about 10:30 a.m. and lasted until about 6:30 p.m. At one point, a dozen police cars, other vehicles and a state police meth team trailer lined the busy city street, while state police wearing black hazardous materials suits with respirators worked inside.

Tenants living in the suspected unit and apartment next door were evacuated because the production of meth can be dangerous and could cause an explosion or fire. A Watertown Fire Department pump truck was called to the scene as a precaution.

Working under temporary white canopies, investigators processed evidence. One investigator carried evidence bags to his vehicle.

Several motorists driving by the duplex asked what was happening and said they were not surprised to hear police were investigating a meth lab.

It would be the fourth meth lab discovered in the city this year and about the ninth in Jefferson County since July, “which is kind of scary,” Detective Gatch said. It’s becoming harder to detect because it once took two or three days to cook meth and now it can be done in less than an hour, he said.

Detective Gatch could not say why there seems to be such an epidemic of meth labs in the county after more than a decade.

“Where there are addicts, there’s going to be people cooking up meth,” he said.

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