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Ellijay, GA
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Members of the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force, at left, begin to remove their haz-mat suits after carrying meth lab material out of a residence at 108 Northcutt Road. Two deputies went to the residence Friday to find a man who had warrants out of Tennessee on him, and then received permission from the man to have the residence searched after he was arrested, said Detective Coy Turner of the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office. (Photo by Mark Millican)
by Mark Millican

An active meth lab was found Friday morning north of Ellijay after Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office deputies trusted their instincts when arresting a man with warrants out of Tennessee, authorities said.

Allen Ray Smith, 46, of 108 Northcutt Road, was charged with seven counts of manufacturing methamphetamine after  a meth lab was discovered in a shack at his residence, according to the sheriff’s office. He has also been charged with parole violation, according to county jail records.

Barbara Yother, 46, of the same address, was charged Friday with felony possession of meth in connection with the lab.  

“The deputies identified the man, took him into custody and received his permission to search the property,” said Detective Coy Turner at the scene of the takedown on the morning of May 17.

Capt. Frank Copeland said the deputies were Josh Chancey and Ryan Franklin, and Sgt. Greg McClure.

Turner said the meth lab was in production when members of the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force arrived to begin dismantling it. Task force members in haz-mat suits could be seen carrying the materials out of an outlying shack on the property and placing them on a tarp in the freshly-mowed grass while another officer listed the materials on a clipboard. A county fire truck was also at the scene.

Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said Friday a male and female were being questioned regarding the lab. 

“This investigation is continuing and other persons could be arrested and/or other charges could be added,” he said. “I’m very pleased that no one has been injured in this process. These cooking labs are very dangerous and officers are to be commended for doing an excellent job not only in the discovery and apprehension, but also in following the procedures for processing the lab.”

A resident of the neighborhood, Jennifer Wright, said she was “completely shocked” to learn of the meth lab. But she added she has called 911 twice with her suspicions about activity near the house on Northcutt Road, with one call as recently as last week.

“There were some shady-looking fellows walking up and down the road at night,” she said. “They were just not respectable-looking guys, walking up and down the road at night without any flashlights. We’ve been making sure our doors were locked at night.”

Smith has been denied bond on the felony charges, according to a jail spokeswoman. He has a hold from Polk County, Tenn., on vehicle theft and a probation violation. Yother was given a $2,500 bond by Magistrate Court Judge Roger Kincaid, but had not made bond by Tuesday afternoon.

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