Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 6, 2014

Rise in meth labs being investigated

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Several recent investigations into local meth labs show a rise in the production of methamphetamine in the area, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday afternoon.

Four recent arrests between Feb. 25 and March 4 show an “uptick” in methamphetamine manufacturing, Undersheriff Michael Filicetti said. The Sheriff’s Office has seen a rise in production of the drug in the area over the last two years, he said. 

A methamphetamine bust on Feb. 25 in the City of Niagara Falls led to the arrest of a suspect in the stabbing at Big Lots on South Transit Road on Feb. 23. Jason T. Clark, 39, Lockport, was picked up on two assault charges, one in the City of Lockport and one in the Town of Lockport. The Big Lots investigation is ongoing, the Sheriff’s Office said, and further charges may be pending. A small amount of methamphetamine, as well as materials used to make the drug were also found, the Sheriff’s Office said. The Niagara County Drug Task Force worked with the Niagara Falls Police Department on the investigation.

On Friday, members of the Niagara County Drug Task Force were serving a parole warrant on a Gabriel Drive residence in the City of Lockport when they came across a strong chemical odor inside the home, the Sheriff’s Office said. While searching the home, members of the task force came across a small amount of methamphetamine, several diminished one-pot meth cooks and items used in producing the drug. Naomi M. Matthews, 29, was arrested and charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Pedro J. Vlaquez, 29, was arrested on the parole warrant. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the investigation is ongoing, and more charges may be pending. 

Also on Friday, around 9:30 p.m., Sheriff Deputy Raymond Needle said he went to the Walnut Street apartment of Matthew D. Bennett, 23, to serve an outstanding bench warrant on a disorderly conduct charge in the Town of Lockport. When Bennett answered the door, Needle informed Bennett that he was being arrested. Bennett asked to retrieve his shoes and coat, which Needle said he could do, as long as he accompanied him. When Needle entered the apartment, he recognized the smell of “coleman fuel” and recognized several items used in making methamphetamine, including a white powder substance and several hypodermic needles on the floor. 

A search warrant was issued for the apartment, and several items tested positive for methamphetamine. A scale was also found, along with suspected heroin, the Sheriff’s Office said. Bennett was charged with seventh degree possession of a controlled substance and was jailed in lieu of $2,500 bail.  

Felony charges for Bennett are pending on the results of tests by the Niagara County Forensics Laboratory on the materials found in the apartment, Filicetti said. 

“It takes a while to get lab results,” he said. 

William K. Ray, 26, was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and felony third degree unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine by the Niagara County Drug Task Force on Tuesday. The investigation into Ray began in December after a bag holding methamphetamine oil and equipment used to make the drug was found in the Town of Hartland, the Sheriff’s Office said. Ray is being held without bail at the Niagara County Jail.

The Sheriff’s Office said that they are continuing to investigate the problem, and asked that any suspicious activities be reported to the Sheriff’s Office.