Two people were charged Wednesday after a mobile meth lab was discovered near the University of South Carolina’s campus, according to an incident report filed with the University of South Carolina Department of Public Safety.
The report said that just after 2:30 p.m., a USC officer observed the suspects’ vehicle fail to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic at the intersection of Sumter and Whaley streets. The officer conducted a traffic stop and called for back up to assist with the scene.
When the officer approached the vehicle, the driver, identified as 43-year-old Marcus Harper, told the officer that he knew he was currently under suspension for failure to pay a reinstatement fee, the report said. Harper was also unable to provide the officer with proof of insurance or registration for the vehicle.
As officers began a search of the vehicle, the report said Harper became agitated that they were searching his vehicle. As officers moved to the trunk of the vehicle, Harper told them that they were violating his rights.
After officers advised Harper that the contents of the vehicle needed to be inventoried before it was towed, Harper continued to be verbally uncooperative with them, especially as they attempted to retrieve a green book bag in the truck, the report said. That was when officers located what appeared to be a mobile meth lab in the book bag.
Harper was placed in custody and put in a patrol car, while the vehicle’s second occupant, 31-year-old Tabitha Kuzemka, was taken into custody and placed in a separate patrol vehicle, the report said.
Officers then requested for Columbia Fire Department’s HAZMAT team to secure the alleged meth lab as well as back up from Columbia police, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and Drug Enforcement Administration agents.
At one point during the search, the report said a passerby informed officers that Kuzemka placed a purse near a man-hole cover during the search of the vehicle. Officers retrieved the bag and located a make-up bag containing four syringes, two smoking pipes, a scale and several Ziploc bags, one of which contained a cotton material with residue on it.
The report said Kuzemka admitted to officers that she was addicted to methamphetamine and that she “booty bumped” methamphetamine – a method of ingesting the drug through the rectum – 15 minutes before being pick up by Harper.
Both of the vehicle’s occupants were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine. The driver is also facing additional charges of driving under suspension and operating an uninsured vehicle.
Wes Hickman, a university spokesman, said neither of the suspects were USC students.