A Virginia State Police officer disposes of materials from a methamphetamine manufacturing operation discovered last week at a Wise residence. PHOTO COURTESY OF WISE POLICE CHIEF TONY BATES
A shoplifting incident at a Wise Fas Mart store last Tuesday led law enforcement to discover a methamphetamine manufacturing operation at a nearby residence.
Wise Police Chief Tony Bates said in an interview Monday that town police officer David Summers received a call at 6:54 p.m. on July 28 that an individual had shoplifted starter fluid at Fas Mart No. 421, located on Woodland Drive near Lowe’s. Bates said the cashier knew the individual, and surveillance video helped confirm his identify.
At about 7:15 p.m., Summers contacted Bates with this information. Bates said Summers, Lt. Danny French, Sgt. Jason Taylor, and himself responded to the individual’s residence at 509 West Main St., Lot A. Bates said the residence is located within 150 feet of the town’s police department.
“When we arrived at the residence . . . our team searched the residence and upon completion of that search, we found products to manufacture meth,” he said. Equipment used to manufacture the drug was also discovered. At that point, town police contacted Virginia State Police, who took control of the scene and evidence collection.
Bradlee Ryan Hamilton, 31, was arrested that night for shoplifting the starter fluid. Bates said state police are exploring additional charges related to the meth manufacturing operation. No additional arrests have been made, and Bates said the investigation is ongoing.
He noted that Hamilton’s girlfriend was present at the scene that night, and two children reside at the home. The children were not present during last week’s search, however, and Bates said county social services had been contacted.
Wise Rescue Squad also provided assistance last week by bringing lighting so officers could see during the operation, said Bates. He estimated law enforcement was on scene for about two and a half hours.
Bates also confirmed that this case is representative of a noticeable increase locally in meth manufacturing. “We’ve seen an increase in the town of Wise and surrounding area with meth labs.”