HAMLET — Two men are facing meth charges following a Thursday traffic stop.
Charles Richard Goodwin, 29, of Airport Road, and Steven Alexander Knight, 26, of St. Stephens Church Road, were arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine.
A Richmond County sheriff’s deputy stopped their car in Hamlet and discovered a “one-pot” cook inside the vehicle, Capt. Jay Childers said.
Both men were booked into the Richmond County Jail, each under a $100,000 secured bond.
Agents C. Tanner and B. Williams with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation came to the Piney Pointe Apartments to clean up, donning protective suits, latex gloves and respirator masks.
During the disposal process, Tanner said they add a chemical that makes the meth react out.
“Once it’s neutral, then we can re-pack it as hazardous waste,” he said at the scene.
Because of the high heat and humidity, Tanner started to get lightheaded and had to step away and let Williams finish the job.
“It’s a dirty, sweaty job, but somebody’s got to do it,” he said. “(We’re) trying to get this cleaned up to keep these people safe.”
CHARGES AND CONVICTIONS
Online court records show Knight is also facing two charges of possession or distribution of a meth precursor and a charge of attempting to manufacture methamphetamine.
While Goodwin has no other pending charges, he does have a criminal record, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction.
In 2003, he was convicted on misdemeanor charges, including two counts of damage to property and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. The following year he was convicted on a a misdemeanor charge of possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance.
In 2008, Goodwin was found guilty on misdemeanor charges of possession of stolen goods and possession of a controlled substance.
Goodwin served seven months behind bars following a 2010 conviction of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. Immediately following that sentence, he served nearly two months for financial card fraud in Scotland County.
In 2013, he was locked up again for five months on a post-release revocation. During that time, he was convicted for having contraband at the Greene County facility.
Later that year, he was convicted on a 2012 DWI charge in Brunswick County.
Knight has no criminal convictions in North Carolina.
METH ON THE RISE
Meth has been a growing problem in Richmond County during the past few years.
In 2014, Richmond tied with Stanly County for having the seventh-highest number of meth labs, each with 17, according to SBI statistics.
This year has also seen quite a few arrests made in connection with the caustic cocktail.
In January, at least 10 people were arrested on meth charges — eight of them within the last week of the month.
Following a six-month investigation targeting meth cooks, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office made seven arrests in early March. The same day the announcement was made, two more people were arrested. By the end of the month, there were at least 19 people charged with meth-related crimes.
Four people were sentenced to federal prison in April for cooking and selling meth in Richmond County from 2013 to 2014.
Both Richmond County Sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr. and Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly attribute the rise to the availability of ingredients and the use of the shake-and-bake method of cooking, as opposed to makeshift meth labs in homes and outbuildings.
Childers said in a March press conference that meth could be mixed in containers as small as a 20-ounce drink bottle. He added that a legal restriction limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine — the main ingredient in meth — that can be purchased may be a contributing factor to the shake-and-bake switch.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.