Woman pleads guilty to cooking meth at home
SARATOGA COUNTY Marlinea South favored the “shake-and-bake” style of cooking at her mobile home in Greenfield.
Also known as the “one-pot” process for manufacturing methamphetamine, she used it to cook 3.9 ounces of the drug at North Creek Mobile Village in October. South, 35, created what state police would later describe as a sophisticated lab in the living area of the mobile home, where she lived with 28-year-old Megan Howell.
State police in Wilton were tipped off to the manufacturing operation and raided the mobile home in October. The search turned up the highly volatile precursors to methamphetamine, an unregistered pistol and the drug itself — all in a residence with an infant less than 1 year old.
On Tuesday, South admitted to criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a weapon, both felonies, during an appearance in Saratoga County Court. For her plea, she is expected to receive as much as four years in prison and five years of post-release supervision.
“The principal actor turned out to be South, who had the knowledge and experience to cook meth,” Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy said. “Based on the amount made and the utensils found, it is a fair inference to make that the defendants were not only making and using methamphetamine, but they were selling it, too.”
The shake-and-bake process of meth manufacturing doesn’t require large quantities of fuel, hours of refining or a lot of space. Relatively few pseudoephedrine tablets are needed to create a batch, so the cooks can usually duck state regulations aimed at curbing the large-scale production of meth.
Recipes for this method are posted online and spread rapidly among users, giving rise to a dangerous breed of amateur meth cooks who may be ill-prepared to deal with the often explosive results of a failed batch. The method is prone to starting flash fires when a cook botches one of the delicate steps.
Authorities believe South and Howell were cooking large quantities of meth in the trailer, which was located in close proximity to other homes at North Creek Mobile Village. Police indicated that the two women purposely located there so they could sell the drug through a network in the area.
Police raided the home Oct. 6, taking Howell and South into custody. Also arrested was Bruce W. Tyler, 55, who was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor for allegedly bringing his 15-year-old son with him during a visit to the home.
During the search, investigators found a Hi-Point 9 mm pistol and 32 rounds of ammunition in South’s bedroom. Murphy said South did not have a license for the weapon and had a previous criminal conviction on her record, making it illegal for her to own a gun.
“It’s not unusual to find drugs and guns in the same location, as police did here,” he said. “As if the manufacture of meth isn’t dangerous enough, the easy access to a gun in that mobile home, combined with children and meth, makes it even more disturbing.”
State police wore gas masks and flame-retardant suits to remove volatile chemicals associated with the manufacturing process. Authorities also hired a toxic waste hauler from Vermont to remove other chemicals found in the trailer, at a cost of thousands of dollars.
Last month, Howell accepted a plea deal that will send her to prison for four years. She is scheduled for sentencing March 14.
South is expected to be sentenced March 31.
The case against Tyler remains pending.