Originally created 11/20/02

Police find evidence of drugs after wreck



Police discovered what they say were materials for making methamphetamines after a one-car accident in Grovetown on Tuesday morning.

Thomas John Johnson, 24, of Martinez, lost control of his 1991 Chevy pickup about 8 a.m. on Appling-Harlem Highway just inside Grovetown city limits while attempting to change the radio station, Grovetown Department of Public Safety Capt. Gary Owens said. The truck veered off into a ditch.

Grovetown officers arrived and discovered a gallon of hydrochloric acid, a film canister containing miscellaneous pills and a bag containing cylinders filled with propane, a large quantity of tubing, syringes and plastic baggies, Capt. Owens said.

These items often are used to manufacture methamphetamines.

"The ashtray was open, and lying in the ashtray was a powderlike substance that (field) tested positive for methamphetamines," Capt. Owens said.

Narcotics investigators from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office were called in to assist. The county's Emergency Services Division and Ferguson Harbour Inc., a hazardous materials company, were called to clear out the chemicals, which are volatile and highly explosive, Capt. Owens said.

Mr. Johnson was arrested and taken to the Grovetown Department of Public Safety. The truck was towed to the Grovetown impound lot to be searched further.

The suspect was said to be delivering the supplies to a Richmond County address, and Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said his agency searched a house.

He would not elaborate on the issue of the warrant.

Mr. Johnson is being charged with driving under the influence pending a drug screen, along with failure to maintain lane, driving on a revoked license and manufacturing methamphetamines, Capt. Owens said.

He was being held without bond at the Grovetown Department of Public Safety, awaiting transfer to the Columbia County Detention Center.

Staff Writer Preston Sparks contributed to this article.

Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 110, or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.