Teenager busted for suitcase meth lab near elementary school

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

A teenager already in trouble is now facing charges of having a portable meth lab in a suitcase.

It happened near a school, and parents are outraged.

17-year-old Terry Hufton is behind bars, accused of operating a meth lab near Willis Foreman Elementary in Hephzibah.

He was out on bond after being arrested in January for the same crime.

The arrest happened earlier this week...but many parents are just finding out that this illegal drug business was set up not too far from school.

Kimberly Solano and her mother Rhonda knew something was going on near their Hephzibah home Tuesday night.

"Just a person getting thrown into the back of a car, women screaming, and cops going that way," Kimberly recalls.

But they didn't know 17-year-old Terry Paige Hufton was being arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine out of a suitcase.

"Investigators developed information that led them to this location," says Lt. Robert Partain of the Richmond County Narcotics squad.

"Being on this street, we're out here in the country...we're by a school, two schools," says Rhonda Solano.

And for that reason, the teen will face a second felony count for illegally setting up shop too close to Willis Foreman Elementary School.

"It's a really big surprise considering there are new subdivisions, so definitely didn't think it was going on here," says Taurin Penn, whose daughters attend the school. She says she's shocked it was going on so close by, but more shocked to hear it was a portable lab.

"Most of the time I hear about it in homes, actually a laboratory going on in the houses, the housing catching fires and blowing up from there," she says.

"We don't believe there was any immediate danger at the moment for any children, but anytime you have these methamphetamine labs it can cause an explosion which can be a danger at that particular point," Lt. Partain says.

Rhonda and her daughter say they are glad no one was hurt...but after just moving here from Phoenix to get away from drugs, they never thought they'd be so close so soon.

"I just think they need to get it off the street," Rhonda says.

Richmond County narcotics investigators tell us this is the second portable meth lab they've confiscated this week.

And if it seems as if you're hearing about more meth labs these days, you are. Lt. Partain says they have busted more labs so far this year than all of last year combined.

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