Originally created 06/16/04

Wagener duo face charges for meth



AIKEN - A Wagener couple was charged with operating a methamphetamine lab from the trunk of their car this week, the latest arrest in what local authorities say is a growing problem in Aiken County.

Jason Jordan, 23, and Carey Branham, 20, face charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and trafficking in illegal drugs after their car was pulled over by narcotics investigators with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office at about 10:30 p.m. Monday, Lt. Barney Eagerton said.

Lt. Eagerton said a search of the car turned up a small amount of methamphetamine, along with plastic tubing, fuel, beakers and jugs suspected of being used to manufacture the illegal stimulant.

The couple's home at 1226 Wagener Trail Road had been under law enforcement surveillance for about a week after sheriff's officials were tipped off that it might be the site of a meth lab, Lt. Eagerton said. Investigators watched Monday night as the couple moved a number of suspected meth-making tools from their house to the car.

After stopping the car a short distance from the house, investigators "recovered a mobile meth lab," Lt. Eagerton said.

It was at least the third meth lab bust Aiken County authorities say they have made in the past year.

Nationwide, the underground production of methamphetamine using common ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, battery acid, phosphorus and kerosene has been on the rise, drug enforcement officials say.

"We're really going to make strong efforts on these meth labs," Lt. Eagerton said. "They're mobile and hard to detect, but we're having some success. We're going to continue to target them and do everything in our power to put a dent in the production of methamphetamine."

Reach Stephen Gurr at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or stephen.gurr@augustachronicle.com.