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When meth houses become homes, tenants are at risk

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The new owner of a home on Ravenwood Drive didn't know it had been used to make methamphetamine.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
The new owner of a home on Ravenwood Drive didn't know it had been used to make methamphetamine.

At the time he just chalked it up to eccentricity, but the episode came back to his mind when he returned home one day to find his street packed with federal agents.

He was shocked when the Drug Enforcement Agency informed him that the house across the street on the 3300 block of Ravenwood Drive was used to manufacture methamphetamine.

There was neither a telltale chemical smell nor the groups of strangers coming and going that signal a drug house, said Rosas, who formerly cleaned up meth labs in Florida.

"We never knew," said Rosas.

Often, neither do the families who move in after the bust.

A Pennsylvania couple recently made news when they got sick after purchasing their dream home. Tests showed trace amounts of methamphetamine left by the previous owners were giving them difficulty breathing, inflamed lungs, sore throats and headaches.

The family that moved in after the meth bust on Ravenwood Drive hasn't experienced any ill effects. But Kowanda Jimperson said she had no clue about the home's history when she bought it in July.

Meth is a powerful narcotic cooked using a host of toxic ingredients including battery acid, paint thinner and benzene. Cleaning up a lab requires thousands of dollars and hours of scrubbing, hosing and burning.

Georgia has no official standard, though, as to what's considered safe.

"No standards whatsoever," said Gordy Powell, the owner of Georgia Clean, a Smyrna-based industrial cleaning company that dismantles meth labs, among other things.

Powell follows Colorado's standards, which are the most strict in the country. He's trying out a new method to clean a meth house, which involves circulating super-heated air through the building for 12 to 15 hours. It's an improvement over at least two weeks of scrubbing the floors and walls of toxic fumes, Powell said.

"We're trying to extract what's been (soaked) into the walls," said Powell, who charges $10 per square foot for a cleaning.

If a house isn't properly cleaned, residents can be exposed to toxic chemicals through touching or breathing contaminated dust particles, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health.

State health officials are studying what health hazards are posed by methamphetamine residue, especially to infants and small children who are the most exposed to carpets and other porous materials.

At high enough levels, exposure may cause health effects similar to those experienced by meth users, according to the community health department.

Realtors aren't required to tell potential buyers that a home is a former meth lab, said Keith Hatcher, the senior director of public policy for the Georgia Association of Realtors.

Hatcher said known defects such as a leaky roof or a cracked foundation must be disclosed, but that doesn't apply to a home's history. It's the same for supposedly haunted houses or one where someone was killed, he said.

"That's not the way the law operates," said Hatcher. "It protects you against known danger."

Hatcher said while a Realtor doesn't have to disclose the history, a potential buyer has every right to ask about a house's former uses.

Another resource available to homeowners is the DEA's National Clandestine Laboratory Register, which discloses all known meth labs in a state going back to 2004.

The list shows Richmond County has the second-most labs in the state with 34, behind Walker County. Aiken County has 20 and Columbia County five.

 \nZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF

The new owner of a home on Ravenwood Drive didn't know it had been used to make methamphetamine.

Known sites

A look at some locations, and the dates of the drug raids, where law enforcement agencies reported finding items that indicated drug labs were present:

RICHMOND COUNTY

- 1631 Curran St. (Oct. 6, 2004)

- 3705 Peach Orchard Road (Nov. 8, 2004)

- 4090 Old Waynesboro Road (Dec. 21, 2004)

- 1933 Gay Drive (May 19, 2005)

- 3473 Lewis Road (Dec. 21, 2005)

- 2534 Lumpkin Road (Jan. 22, 2006)

- 612 Bennock Mill Road (Jan. 26, 2006)

- 154 Cornith Drive (March 10, 2006)

- 2415 Willis Foreman Road (May 16, 2006)

- 3105 Mike Padgett Highway (July 12, 2006)

- 2014 Battle Row (Sept. 28, 2006)

- 2545 Rhodes Drive (Nov. 22, 2006)

- 3001 Roe's Wood Drive (Dec. 14, 2006)

- 154 Corinth (March 23, 2007)

- 2553 Rhodes Drive (July 11, 2007)

- 7048 Amarillo Circle (Aug. 21, 2007)

- 1944 Warren St. (March 15, 2008)

- 1925 Telfair St. (Aug. 15, 2008)

- 3347 Ravenwood Drive (Dec. 9, 2008)

- 2501 Coleman Ave. (April 19, 2010)

- 1503 Pine Ridge Drive (Aug. 18, 2010)

- 3326 88 Highway, Blythe (July 14, 2006)

- 2839 Old Hwy 1 Highway, Hephzibah (Oct. 12, 2005)

- 2419 Turkey Trail Drive, Hephzibah (Jan. 25, 2006)

- 308 Robert Drive, Hephzibah (March 10, 2006)

- 2400 Turkey Trail Drive, Hephzibah (May 29, 2006)

- 2393 North Cougar Drive, Hephzibah (March 13, 2007)

- 2059 McDade Road, Hephzibah (July 2, 2007)

- 2059 McDade Road, Hephzibah (Sept. 6, 2007)

- 4535 Windsor Spring Road, Hephzibah (March 15, 2008)

- 2489 88 Highway, Hephzibah (April 6, 2010)

- 4368 Forest Road, Hephzibah (April 27, 2010)

- 3056 Wolcott Lane, Hephzibah (April 29, 2010)

- 5341 Timberwood Drive, Hephzibah (Sept. 17, 2010)

COLUMBIA COUNTY

- 136 Pond View, Evans (Jan. 3, 2007)

- 100 Harlem Road, Grovetown (Jan. 27, 2005)

- 1036 Carlene, Grovetown (Jan. 9, 2006)

- 607 Thomas Drive, Martinez (April 13, 2010)

- 3905 Almon Drive, Martinez (July 5, 2010)

Note: The U.S. Department of Justice does not guarantee the accuracy of this list

Source: justice.gov/dea/seizures/index.html

Comments (17) Add comment
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Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 12/19/10 - 10:08 am
0
0
Population of Richmond County

Population of Richmond County 200,000, 34 Meth House busts
Population of Columbia County 113,000, 5 Meth House busts

Riverman1
84003
Points
Riverman1 12/19/10 - 10:20 am
0
0
So is it being suggested that

So is it being suggested that the house should be torn down? Silly...air it out for a couple of months, paint it and I'd live in it.

AutumnLeaves
7757
Points
AutumnLeaves 12/19/10 - 10:39 am
0
0
This is obviously not just an

This is obviously not just an inner city or urban problem. But I knew that already. Look at the addresses and check a map if you don't know where the drug houses were located.

seenitB4
87300
Points
seenitB4 12/19/10 - 10:47 am
0
0
You are right Leaves....&

You are right Leaves....& some don't know they are living next door to a meth house......this stuff happens more than we know.

mybaskett
224
Points
mybaskett 12/19/10 - 10:48 am
0
0
Autumnleaves the majority of

Autumnleaves the majority of the homes listed in RC are not in the inner city area they are in rural areas. Look at the addresses and check a map.

mybaskett
224
Points
mybaskett 12/19/10 - 10:48 am
0
0
Autumnleaves the majority of

Autumnleaves the majority of the homes listed in RC are not in the inner city area they are in rural areas. Look at the addresses and check a map.

Riverman1
84003
Points
Riverman1 12/19/10 - 10:58 am
0
0
No, it's not just an inner

No, it's not just an inner city problem, but it is an Augusta-Richmond Cty problem as evidenced by the statistics.

countyman
20129
Points
countyman 12/19/10 - 11:28 am
0
1
Meth is mostly used by white

Meth is mostly used by white people. It'll never be considered a inner city problem similar to crack... The rising foster population in Georgia consist of poorer white kids from rural GA. It's a majority white rural, lower middle class, and middle class drug..

As usual certain Columbia County posters try to make it seem crime and drugs are only in Richmond County... The article said Columbia County had 5 and Aiken County had 20...

Riverman1
84003
Points
Riverman1 12/19/10 - 11:54 am
0
0
Countyman said, "The rising

Countyman said, "The rising foster population in Georgia consist of poorer white kids from rural GA."

What do you mean, more whites are foster children than blacks and that somehow affects meth use? Foster kids are more likely to use meth? What have you been reading? Do you have a link to all this reasoning or is it unique to you?

Riverman1
84003
Points
Riverman1 12/19/10 - 11:55 am
0
0
"The article said Columbia

"The article said Columbia County had 5 "

LOL

Richmnd Cty Votr
1
Points
Richmnd Cty Votr 12/19/10 - 01:53 pm
0
0
JUST IMAGINE, these are just

JUST IMAGINE, these are just the KNOWN homes to make METH! Just think of how many are going undetected. Probable triple this list or more.

Lori Davis
920
Points
Lori Davis 12/19/10 - 02:53 pm
0
0
504 Beaufort Dr. was left off

504 Beaufort Dr. was left off the list. An 84 year old lady living next door knew what was going on in there. The house has FINALLY been condemned by code enforcement. It took three years to get the proper action. This house is in Harrisburg in one of the better pockets of the neighborhood which still has a large degree of home ownership .Not much of that left here. Nice little street, bad situation. Code Enforcement let a lot slide for those three years even with constant calling from the neighbors. It was almost as if the owner was being protected for some reason. Now it is not on this list. Interesting.......

TrulyWorried
14266
Points
TrulyWorried 12/19/10 - 02:56 pm
0
0
And what defense does a

And what defense does a homeowner have if there should be a meth house next or near to him? How can you tell? What can you do? Are there certain signs (besides a lot of visitors which would be obvious)
one can look for?

Lori Davis
920
Points
Lori Davis 12/19/10 - 03:22 pm
0
0
trulyworried. The smell

trulyworried. The smell generally gives it away. Also a lot of in and out at night driving different cars. The house on Beaufort had children's toys out front but no children lived there. The methmaker had several vehicles and a truck with a paper tag that he replaced every month. He must have had a stack of them. He also left all hours of the night and loaded a lot of garbage bags in the trunk of his car. I imagine these were empty containers that he took somewhere else to dispose of. He also had a garden tub delievered even though there was only one bathroom in the house that could not accomodate it.

aliciamarie88
0
Points
aliciamarie88 12/19/10 - 03:32 pm
0
0
Please be more specific when

Please be more specific when posting addresses. I live at the Forest Road address and there are LOT numbers that should be addressed. Forest Road isn't the cleanest area but it was definitely not my address that had a drug bust on that date.

Sweet son
10406
Points
Sweet son 12/19/10 - 05:38 pm
0
0
Fifteen previous posts and

Fifteen previous posts and only Countyman made it a race issue. He should have been in Sunday School at 10:28AM.

dreamcatcher_ga
5
Points
dreamcatcher_ga 12/20/10 - 04:01 pm
0
0
Truly Worried, you can also

Truly Worried, you can also tell by cameras being posted in windows by the driveway and also posted on the front porch or surrounding area. Nobody ever comes to the front door but will come out the back door and walk around front to see who it is. Generally, there is a steady decline in the upkeep of the home. Along with the smell, shrubbery, flowers and grass will wither and begin to die ~~ including the close neighbors greenery. This is because of the fumes escaping from the batch of meth being made. I know this because I'm related to someone in the neighborhood of Beaufort. Lori, thank you so much by staying on top of all this type of scum.

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