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Deputies say traffic stop led to meth lab

Sheriff’s officials say a routine traffic stop to serve a warrant led to the discovery of an active meth lab inside the vehicle on Tuesday afternoon.
Ronald Forrest Lowe, 41, 811 Folsom St., was arrested by Carter County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Derek Hamm after the traffic stop on an active arrest warrant out of General Sessions Court charging him with violation of probation. He now faces an additional charge of initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine.
According to CCSD Sgt. Harmon Duncan, who responded to the location, Hamm had observed Lowe driving a white Buick Skylark in the area of the Covered Bridge, and said Hamm knew that Lowe had an active warrant for his arrest. The vehicle which Lowe was driving at the time of the stop did not belong to him, according to Duncan. The registered owner of the vehicle was contacted and allowed to come to the scene of the arrest and retrieve her car.
Duncan said that after Lowe was transported to the Carter County Detention Center, officers “developed information that there may be drug items in the car.” Sgt. Duncan said the vehicle was not searched at the time of the traffic stop because there was no indication drugs were present in the vehicle during the traffic stop.
At that time, Hamm responded to 811 Folsom St. and spoke with the owner of the vehicle, who was identified as Sandra Morris. “She granted consent to search and helped in the search,” Sgt. Duncan said. “She reached in and removed a grocery bag from the vehicle which contained items that Hamm recognized as components of an active meth lab.”
Once the lab was discovered, Hamm notified Duncan of the findings and the Meth Task Force was dispatched to the scene.
Meth lab technicians removed what they identified as an active “one-pot” meth lab from the vehicle and the contents were burned off under the supervision of meth lab technicians and the Elizabethton Fire Department.
Officers also searched the residence at 811 Folsom as well as a building at the rear of the property tjat was identified as 811 1/2 Folsom St.
“We are going to seize the car because there was an active meth lab in it. We are required by law to seize the car and decontaminate it,” Sgt. Duncan said, adding that while Morris is losing her vehicle, no charges are being placed against her. “It is our opinion that she had no knowledge of this. There was no evidence that meth was ever cooked in the house.”
Duncan said Lowe had been residing at the residence after telling Morris he was homeless. He also stated that Lowe and Morris were not related and that Morris knew Lowe, but had no prior knowledge of his history of drug charges. According to Duncan, Lowe has multiple felony charges including numerous charges related to methamphetamine.