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Man busted for meth labs

A Flomaton man is behind bars charged with manufacturing a controlled substance and other drug charges after law enforcement officers discovered four meth labs at his home on Old Highway 31.

David Michael Mathis, 30, of 4400 Old Hwy. 31, Lot 7 of Jackson’s Traiiler Park, was arrested Friday night when officers with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department responded to complaints from residents in the area.

Chief Deputy Mike Lambert said other residents in the same mobile home park as Mathis had complained about odors coming from the vicinity of the space occupied by Mathis.

“They had called to complain about a bad smell coming from the vicinity of Lot 7,” Lambert said. “When we responded to the scene, a woman who owns the mobile home at that lot said the dwelling should be unoccupied. She gave us consent to search the premises.”

Lambert said officers with the Sheriff’s Department and the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force Unit entered the residence and found Mathis sleeping in one of the rooms.

“Our officers found Mathis in a bed covered with a blanket,” Lambert said. “He was awakened and officers noticed drug paraphernalia and controlled substances within arms reach of where he was sleeping.”

Lambert said the substance found at the scene was field tested and was found to test positive as methamphetimine. Mathis was taken into custody without incident based on the presence of the drug.

“At that point we began to search the entire residence to see if other substances were at the scene,” Lambert said. “During our investigation we found a working meth lab in the trunk of a car at the scene. Further searches turned up another meth lab in a bedroom. It was not working, but it was ready for operation.”

Lambert said officers removed the lab materials from the home but found a strong odor consistant with the production of the drug remained in the home.

“We could still smell the odor and knew we had to continue our search,” Lambert said. “We found an additional lab operating inside a pitcher sitting on a shelf above the washer in the home. We removed that lab and continue to smell the same odor.”

During a continued search of the residence, Lambert said a fourth meth lab was discovered in the residence.

“We removed the cover from an air conditioning vent and found a fourth meth lab,” Lambert said. “That brought us to four labs at the scene with three operating at the time of our search.”

Lambert said although Mathis was the only person found inside the home at the time of the search, others may have been in the home prior to law enforcement officers arriving on the scene.

“We don’t know who might have run out the back door when we arrived,” Lambert said. “We did bring in the tracking dogs from Fountain Correctional Facility to aid in our investigation. The dogs did track for a distance from the residence but lost the scent. We believe someone left the scene and was picked up in a vehicle near the residence.”

Lambert said the incident remains under investigation and other arrests are possible in this case.

Mathis was charged with unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, first degree; unlawful possession of a controlled substance; and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was being held on a $50,000 bond as of press time Tuesday.