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Working meth lab seized in Central Point

In a rarity since cold medicines were regulated nearly six years ago, the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team seized a working meth lab and arrested a man on felony drug and weapons charges.

On Tuesday, a Jackson County Community Justice officer and a Jackson County sheriff's deputy visited a property on Duggan Road in Central Point to arrest a man on a probation violation.

They tracked Kevin Lyle Cory, 40, to a small trailer in the 12000 block of Duggan Road. While the officer and deputy were walking through the trailer they found a box containing glassware and a chemical sludge that appeared to be methamphetamine, Johnson said.

MADGE officers responded to the trailer and confirmed the box was a portable meth lab, Johnson said.

"The meth sludge inside needed to be dried out and it would have been usable," Johnson said. "It was a working meth lab."

In addition, officers found a .223 semi-automatic rifle, a .45 pistol and a switchblade. Because Cory is a convicted felon, it is illegal for him to own these weapons.

Cory was arrested on charges of manufacture and possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon and four municipal warrants for various low-level charges.

The meth lab came as a surprise to the MADGE officers, who only saw one lab in Jackson County last year, Johnson said.

"They recognized the smell of a meth lab when they walked in the trailer," Johnson said. "You never forget that smell, it seems."

The lab presents a logistical issue for police, as it has to be treated as a chemical contaminant.

The Oregon Emergency Response System dispatched a cleanup crew from Portland to deal with the lab, Johnson said.

"It's treated like a chemical spill," he said. "Except with some chemical spills, you're sometimes dealing with substances that aren't toxic. You know meth is toxic."

Since the 2006 ban on over-the-counter cold medicines, meth labs have been on the decline throughout Oregon.

Pills containing pseudoephedrine, a primary ingredient in meth, have been available by request only and have been kept behind pharmacy counters since July 2006, when the Legislature issued a ban on them in an effort to combat the methamphetamine epidemic.

"The cleanup team was surprised by the lab," Johnson said. "They told us they don't see very many of them anymore."