GREENSBORO — Two more men are facing federal charges for their alleged roles related to methamphetamine in Richmond County
According to a nine-count indictment filed July 26, federal prosecutors accuse Guy Michael Smith and Alex Brian Eaves of conspiring to manufacture and distribute meth from 2012 to June of this year, in violation of U.S. code.
Smith, who was arrested Thursday on a federal warrant, is accused of manufacturing “quantities of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine;” possessing pseudoephedrine; use a residence at 175 Fox Rd. to manufacture, distribute and use meth; and possess equipment, chemicals, products and materials used to make meth.
The charges stem from an investigation on June 24.
Eaves faces the same charges from a Feb. 5 meth lab bust at 1735 U.S. 1 North outside Rockingham.
Investigators with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office told the Daily Journal earlier this year that Eaves went to FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital late on Feb. 4 to receive treatment for burns he said were from trying to light trash in a burn pile.
A relative called deputies after noticing something suspicious at his home — which turned out to be a meth lab, investigators said.
During a search of the home, investigators say they found an active one-pot cook and evidence of three inactive “shake-and-bake” cooks. The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation assisted in the cleanup of the lab.
According to warrants, investigators found several key ingredients for making meth: sodium hydroxide, which is commonly known as lye; lighter fluid and Coleman fuel; ammonium nitrate; and pseudoephedrine.
They also found a glass smoking pipe and a spoon, warrants show.
It was Richmond County’s first meth lab bust of the year.
Smith has a detention hearing scheduled for Sept. 1 and Eaves is scheduled to be arraigned on the federal charges the week of Sept. 5, according to Clifton T. Barrett, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Because meth was becoming a growing problem, the sheriff’s office and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation initiated a federal investigation with U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand’s office in 2014. Since then, 52 people have been indicted on federal meth charges, according to Barrett.
At least 20 of those were convicted in 2015.
Seven other people — Brandon Lynn Kiker, Myra Ann Horne, Mary Elizabeth Collins, Raymond Ray Ricky Collins, Donna Pullian Hayden, Dorothy Jean Hayden and Tammy McIntyre Bruner — were also indicted on July 26.
A map published Friday on the SBI’s Facebook page shows there were 255 clandestine meth lab responses in North Carolina as of July 31.
Johnston County currently leads the state with 23 responses. Neighboring Anson County is tied with Wake County for the second-highest number of busts with 14 each. Onslow County has had 12 responses, making it No. 3 in the state’s 100 counties — the same position Richmond County held for most of 2015.
Richmond has had nine, and is tied for the fourth-highest number of meth labs with Gaston and Duplin counties. Sampson and Iredell counties round out the top five with eight each.
Other nearby counties with recorded responses include Stanly (6), Montgomery (3) and Moore (2). There have been no meth labs found in Scotland, Hoke, Union or Robeson counties this year, according to SBI figures.
Although Richmond’s total is half of what it was this time last year, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Kelly Page said in a Friday email, “It is difficult to say whether there has been an increase or decrease until the end of the year when we have the final numbers.
“Some months are busier than others” she continued. “With several months to go in the year, it appears that we are on track to work about the same number of labs as last year. But again, that is difficult to tell at this time.”
All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.