BARROW COUNTY, Ga. - It was the largest meth bust in Barrow County history over the weekend. It is not what one may expect coming from the town of Bethlehem where some streets are named in honor of the biblical birthplace of Jesus.
On Sedgefield Trail, stickers mark a home as a clandestine drug lab where hazardous materials were seized.
"My girlfriend was coming home from work, dressed in [HAZMAT] gear, and we didn't know what was going on," said Bryan Muller.
Muller returned to the home Monday afternoon to see for himself the home raided by DEA agents and county deputies which set a grisly record.
"So what you are seeing is the finished product of crystal methamphetamine, their shards are very large," said Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith as he pointed to a picture of the meth on his computer screen.
The sheriff said the methamphetamine originated in Mexico where it was cooked into liquid meth then likely shipped to the U.S. in barrels. Then he said some of that was put into 19 one-gallon jugs. Those jugs, he said, were then sent to the home in Bethlehem where the liquid meth was transformed into crystal meth or “ice” using pasta colanders, chemicals, buckets, and air.
"It breaks down with air and different things they add to it and so they have to dry it out. It will break up into pieces what you would normally see as crystal ice or methamphetamine," said Sheriff Smith.
The sheriff said the 45 to 50 pounds of "ice" has a street value of more than one million dollars.
He said Investigators have not found a local connection which brought these five men from Mexico to the Bethlehem home to set up the clandestine drug operation.
"I would imagine it could be connected to a cartel of some sort. I mean anybody knows this type of lifestyle is going to be connected to that," said Sheriff Smith.
He said a quarter million dollars cash, guns, and marijuana were also found at the home.
The Mexican meth bust occurred two days ago after a tip.
"You have drugs and money and guns, 20 houses down from you, in the same subdivision where my kids are out, everybody's kids are out who would have thought that," said Shannon Hughes, who lives in the neighborhood.
Sheriff Smith said based on the tip it is believed the Mexican meth lab operated at the Bethlehem home about three weeks.