Photo by Rain Smith.
BLOUNTVILLE — On a dead-end Blountville street lined with otherwise well-kept homes and manicured lawns, police descended on a methamphetamine operation Thursday afternoon — finding truckloads of loose garbage strewn across the back yard and the oblivious, elderly mother of one suspect living in the conditions.
The Emergency Management Agency was called to respond due to the amount of cleanup and hazards presented, including thousands of needles. Animal Control officers also removed three dogs and a cat from the residence.
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office vice detectives visited the home, 260 Florence Drive, about 2 p.m. They say an investigation began following complaints of possible drug activity at the residence, adding two of the inhabitants had recently purchased ingredients used to manufacture meth.
Police say they received consent to conduct a search. Though no active cook was under way, numerous meth precursors were located. Cindi Ann Alexander, 48, of the residence, and a man who had reportedly lived there approximately a year, Clayton Eugene Puckett, 49, were arrested. Thus far they have been charged with initiation of a process intended to produce methamphetamine and maintaining a dwelling where drugs are used, stored or sold.
What police found inside the home was overshadowed by what they found in the back yard: truckloads of loose garbage thrown out the doors and windows, and a debris pile approximately 30 yards from the structure where trash was periodically burned. Police and emergency responders tiptoed through the debris, which reportedly included “thousands of needles.”
SCSO Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart said Puckett and Alexander apparently opted not to bag and properly dispose of their trash for fear of someone discovering their operation. Investigators believe the couple had been producing meth at the home for six to seven months.
Police say additional charges are pending against the duo, including those that could be leveled by the Department of Human Services. The agency responded due to Alexander’s mother living in the home. Earhart said the woman — who is in her 60s with health issues and lacking mobility — was unaware of both the heaps of trash and meth operation. Police say she owned the residence and is considered a victim in the case.