LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. -- The Lincoln County Sheriff credits the use of a new strategy in helping uncover a record number of meth labs this year.
To date, the narcotics team made 19 meth busts, compared to six last year.
The frequency of the bust started in April when the department began utilizing an existing national database to generate leads.
Thursday night's meth bust in Denver was a direct result. Investigators were lead to the mobile home following a search of the database known as NPLEX.
It stands for National Precursor Log Exchange, and keeps tracks of what is being sold at pharmacies throughout the country and the state.
"We have been accessing it and it's really been working out for us," said Sheriff David Carpenter.
Although the database was available to North Carolina law enforcement at the start of the year, detectives in Lincoln County began using the data to their advantage, looking for certain red-flag "indicators."
Further analysis pinpointed purchases of certain ingredients by individuals. In the case involving the arrests of three in Denver, investigators linked known "associates," who may have been purchasing ingredients on their behalf.
The team would typically conduct "knock and talks," visiting suspected meth producers. According to the Sheriff, nine out of 10 times, they would find precursor ingredients indicating the likelihood meth was being produced.
Just after 6:00 p.m., investigators paid a visit to the mobile home on Todd Lane in Denver.
Deputies arrested William, Heather Newell and Martin Hudgens, charging the trio with manufacturing a controlled substance.
Deputies discovered an active one-pot method meth lab, where a two-liter soda bottle was being used.
Sheriff carpenter says the female suspect had poured the contents down the drain as investigators went inside.
The same tactic was used recently which lead to the discovery of three meth labs in the span of a week.
"I think it sends a clear message that we are maybe a half step ahead of the actions that they are doing. We are going to continue to do that, and be proactive in the way we are doing it," said Sheriff Carpenter