NANTICOKE -- Police served a search warrant Tuesday night at an East Washington Street residence on suspicion that a methamphetamine lab has been operating there in the basement.
Police Chief William Shultz said police were dispatched at 4:36 p.m. to 232 E. Washington St. for a reported stabbing.
When police arrived, they found that both the victims and suspects had fled. While searching the house for suspects, police found what they believed to be a working meth lab in the basement and contacted the state Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation to apply for a search warrant.
John Soprano, state regional director for the bureau, said serving a search warrant on a meth lab is a very intensive process. He sent two agents to obtain a search warrant and activated hazardous materials units from Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg.
A state police chemist was also called out to the scene, as well as the Nanticoke Fire Department in case of an explosion related to meth lab chemicals.
Residents of about six homes were evacuated for their safety.
Emergency responders were still on scene as of press time Tuesday night.
Police did take individuals into custody, including Linda Buckley, who resides at 232 E. Washington St., Shultz said. This address is a place where a lot of homeless individuals hang out … and we've had quite a bit of problems here in the past.
A man who was evacuated from his home but who declined to give his name said there has been a lot of unusual activity over there for a year now – a lot of people coming and going, pull up, double-park, run in and run back out.
Another neighbor who was evacuated and also wished to remain anonymous said there have been several fights inside and outside the house. She said her husband has called police to report activity, and the other neighbor who was evacuated said he has as well.
The police have done a good job to try to contain it, and this is the end result, the man said.
Both neighbors pointed out that authorities found a major marijuana growing operation in a vacant building, once home to a bowling alley, in the next block a few years ago.
George Ellis, 60, of Wapwallopen, the owner of the former L.S. Bowl-A-Rama at Washington and Prospect streets, pleaded guilty in May 2010 to possessing more than 1,100 marijuana plants and money laundering. The plants were discovered during a raid at the bowling alley in November 2009. He was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
I definitely think our community needs to come up with a better plan to deal with drugs in the city. It's getting out of hand. Something has to be done, the male neighbor said.
Mayor Joe Dougherty, who was on scene Tuesday, said the city saw a meth lab bust several years ago on West Green Street and another on Alden Road.
I don't think people should determine that Nanticoke is a home of meth houses, because it happens everywhere. … You don't know where they're going to show up. Like here, it's a quiet neighborhood, a regular home and here it is, Dougherty said. It's a problem Nanticoke faces, it's a problem our county faces, a problem our state faces and a problem our country faces. Drugs are a huge problem.
Dougherty said residents who see anything questionable should call 911, local police, or call me at my office. It's a part-time job, but I'm always available.