Carroll County prosecutor Adam P. Taylor said Joe Allen Bradley, 32, and Brandon Scott Reid, 22, both from Muscadine, Ala., pled guilty to charges involving possession of ephedrine and manufacturing of methamphetamine this week before Judge John Simpson.
A jury had already been selected by Tuesday for Bradley, who Taylor said entered a blind plea of guilty before the trial began and was sentenced to serve eight years in prison followed by 12 years of probation.
Officials said Reid, who also pleaded guilty, was ordered to serve five years on probation after pleading under the First Offender Act.
Gary Dale Howell, 36, and his wife, Lana Donaldson Howell, 41, both from Carrollton, were sentenced to serve 10 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation in the case, according to authorities.
West Georgia Drug Task Force Agent Jay Sims said the four were arrested on Sept. 11, 2006, after the Mazda MX3 Bradley was driving was stopped by Carroll County sheriff’s Deputy Lee Maxwell on the Carrollton Bypass around midnight for driving with malfunctioning headlights.
Sims said the deputy contacted the task force’s Meth Lab Response Team after smelling a strong chemical odor inside the car and finding a cardboard box in the back seat of the vehicle.
Agents discovered a complete meth lab capable of producing a large quantity of the drug inside the box, car and car’s trunk. Sims said 388 grams of ephedrine, between two to three pounds of pure ephedrine and other ingredients were discovered.
“We found every single stage of the manufacturing process in the vehicle - including liquid meth that was stored in a pickle jar,” he said. “This was one step away from creating phosphine gas, which is odorless and invisible and is fatal if inhaled. The lab posed numerous dangers of inhalation, flammability, explosiveness and corrosive hazards.”
Sims said if the car would have been involved in a crash while carrying the meth lab, the acids could have mixed with the base of the substances - creating a chemical explosion.
“This was a team effort with the work of the sheriff’s office and drug task force,” Taylor said. “The car was initially stopped by the sheriff’s office, and then rendered safe by the drug task force in a nearby parking lot. The officers made a good case, and everyone pled guilty. This is a good example that the county is cracking down of meth labs - whether they are stored in cars, motels, hotels or inside of people’s homes - and getting tough on the meth chefs.”