Couple Arrested for Running Meth Lab in Midland Hotel Room
MIDLAND, TX (KWES) -
Two people were arrested Sunday on federal charges after they were caught operating a methamphetamine lab in a Midland hotel, officials said.
Patrick Bonar and Hailey Walston allegedly had a "homegrown meth recipe," chemicals used in manufacturing the drug, unknown liquids undergoing a chemical reaction in plastic containers and other suspicious materials in their room at the Residence Inn on Deauxville Boulevard, according to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) representatives.
The two are currently charged with knowingly and intentionally possessing chemicals, equipment and materials which may be used to manufacture a controlled substance. If lab tests detect any amount of methamphetamine in the containers seized from their hotel room, officials said, charges will be upgraded to manufacturing the narcotic.
Midland Police reportedly uncovered the operation when they were investigating Bonar for a non-related criminal offense.
"They immediately contacted us and DEA agents determined the evidence was consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine," said Dante Sorianello, the DEA's resident agent in charge of Midland. "This is reminiscent of what used to be referred to as 'tweeker labs.' The size and scale of this operation would have been for personal use, with maybe just a little bit extra to sell to other individuals."
This marks the first time in more than seven and a half years the DEA has busted a meth lab in Midland, he added.
According to Sorianello, meth abuse and trafficking are more common than manufacturing in West Texas.
"I would say 99 percent of the meth we see here is manufactured in 'super labs' across the border in Mexico," he explained.
It's unclear when Bonar and Walston checked into the Residence Inn or began mixing their chemical concoctions. Representatives for the Marriott-owned hotel could not be reached for comment.
Other guests reported noticing nothing out of the ordinary during their stay.
"I had no idea," Mike Russell told NewsWest 9. "From what I've seen, it seems like any other hotel."
Officials detected fumes coming from the couple's equipment, Sorianello said, and evacuated surrounding rooms as a precaution. He confirmed no injuries, fires or explosions were reported as a result of the meth operation.
"You can create toxic fumes, flash fires [and] chemical spills with homegrown meth recipes," said Sorianello. "If you're doing it in a hotel instead of a [secluded location such as a] barn, other people who are not involved in any of this have the potential to be injured."