ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, LA (WVUE) - St. John authorities have purchased some new tools to crack down on meth labs after a series of recent arrests.
Investigators have used hidden cameras and confidential informants to arrest 23 suspects in the past three years, many of whom are repeat offenders.
On a quiet street in Garyville, deputies this summer arrested three people for making meth. The homeowner, 45-year-old Christopher Rowe, allegedly pulled a gun on officers.
"A lot of these guys have good families and have tried to help them, [but] it's got a grip on them, it's a demon," said St John Sheriff Mike Tregre.
Rowe and two others had several rounds of ammunition. They were part of a recent string of arrests that have shut down 18 meth labs in the parish in the past three years.
"I worry about it very much because the kids try and live up to their big brothers and the people they see on the streets," said Garyville resident Ben Dewey.
Tregre said the arrests come from tips and checks on local pharmacies for people purchasing the derivative ingredients.
"I could easily use five more detectives just to chase down the purchasers of the precursors that will take us right to the where the meth labs are being built," Tregre said. "Some have been given jail time. Some have tried to get treatment."
But you don't have to have a house to cook meth. One lab was busted in some woods off of River Road during an investigation into illegal trash dumping. Deputies deployed special tree-mounted cameras to try and spot litterers, but found meth producers instead. They arrested 33-year-old Christopher Trosclair, who had been arrested 33 times in St. John parish in the last 16 years.
"Since then, we've brought and purchased many more [cameras] like this and deployed them all over the parish," said Sgt. Christie Chauvin.
St. John the Baptist Parish seems to be bucking a national trend. While arrests are up there, they are down slightly across the U.S. according to the DEA.