RICHLAND COUNTY — A growing number of meth lab discoveries has Richland County officials worried about public safety.
In the past two years, the number of meth labs discovered by law enforcement in Richland County has more than tripled — from seven in 2011 to 23 last year. And no one is sure how many other labs are in operation but haven’t been discovered.
The chemicals used in manufacturing meth are dangerous, Lott warned, and can cause respiratory problems and pose a flammable or explosive danger. But even after the drugs are manufactured, exposure to the environment where the drugs were made can be hazardous.
So Sheriff Leon Lott has announced that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department — along with Richland County fire marshals and Emergency Services Personnel — will begin labeling locations where labs have been found. Once the locations are cleaned professionally, the labels will be removed.
Lott said hotel employees and guests are specifically at risk. Hotel staff members, he said, may not realize they are cleaning up the remains of a meth lab — so the incident is never reported or professionally cleaned to prevent future illness or injury.
He asked that citizens report to law enforcement any suspicious activity, labs or chemicals found in hotel rooms, apartments, cars, homes, woods or fields — popular locations for meth labs.
Just last week, one was discoverd in a vehicle’s trunk during a traffic stop.
Richland County sheriff’s deputy, with the help of his K-9 partner, arrested a convicted felon last week on three charges.
Samuel Guilard, 47, was charged Thursday with manufacturing meth, marijuana possession and felon in possession of a firearm during a routine traffic stop for speeding on Kelly Mill Road in Blythewood.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced the arrest Monday.
When the deputy pulled Guilard over on a speeding violation, the K-9 alerted to an illegal substance within the vehicle. The investigation revealed marijuana and a weapon inside the vehicle and a mobile meth lab in the trunk, according to a press release from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.