In the area’s first major drug operation of the year, METRICH-MARMET agents and others broke up methamphetamine production at 634 Pearl St. Tuesday.

Richard Sobers, 29, and Tasha Sobers, 31, were arrested on charges of manufacturing and possession of methamphetamine, both second-degree felonies, and possession of heroin, a fourth-degree felony. Municipal Court records do not indicate they have been charged there.

Marion Police Chief Bill Collins alleged Richard Sobers was “manufacturing on a level to sell.” Some of the meth was unfinished liquid product, which under Ohio law still counts as methamphetamine. “…Meth is back, it’s starting to creep back in again. We’ve had it bouncing in and out for the last five or six years,” Collins said.

“METRICH-MARMET is very aggressive in terms of investigating those who make meth in our community,” Maj. Jay McDonald said in a news release announcing the raid. “…We hope that these arrests send a signal to others that think they want to make meth that law enforcement will find you and arrest you if you choose to take the path.”

METRICH-MARMET officers raided three houses in the city last year in connection with meth production, according to Lt. Christy Utley of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Unlike heroin and cocaine, the major narcotics in Marion, Collins said meth used in Marion is made in Marion as well.

“It’s made right here, they call it the one-pot method,” he said, citing the various chemicals that are used to create it, sometimes in a two-liter bottle. If a mistake is made in production it can lead to a fire or explosion; Collins said a 2014 house fire was due to meth production.

Entering and searching a house is also hazardous, so the Tuesday search also involved city firefighters staged in the area in case anything went wrong, either in chemical exposure or fire. Law enforcement agents with METRICH-MARMET, the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the city police had to adjust tactics as well, using caution rather than dynamic entry that would be used on a house with other drugs.

Because of these hazards and the more potentially violent effects on users, METRICH-MARMET is especially committed to keeping meth out of the area. In the news release, McDonald said that not only is the drug harmful to users, but neighbors of those producing it are at risk due to the volatile nature of the chemicals involved.

“When we hear about (meth), we jump on it as quick as we can because there’s one or two people that know how to cook it and we try to arrest them as quick as we can, get them out of the community because certainly what we do not need is a meth epidemic on top of a heroin epidemic,” Collins said.

Originally published in the Marion Star on January 20, 2016.