NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A judge denied bond for six suspects accused in a meth lab bust during their first court appearance Wednesday.
Vice and Narcotics officers with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday arrested the six people for running meth labs out of their homes in Castle Hayne.
According to Lt. Jerry Brewer with the sheriff's office, Vice and Narcotics officers along with agents with the State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at a home in the 200 block of McGregor Road following a three-week investigation.
Joshua Aaron Register, 33, and Kerri Lynn Torres, 36, are both facing numerous charges including manufacture meth, sell meth, maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance, and possession with intent to manufacture/sell/deliver meth.
According to arrest warrants, the couple sold approximately .38 grams of meth to a confidential informant for the sheriff's office on Feb. 26. Warrants also indicate that officers seized from the home meth precursor items including petroleum distillate, lithium metal, sodium hydroxide, and ammonium nitrate.
Officers also seized a pseudoephedrine receipt, digital scales, clear plastic bags, a metal grinder, and a glass smoking pipe.
Authorities said they later executed search warrants at two neighboring homes on McGregor Road and uncovered additional meth labs being operated out of those homes.
Tracy Nicole Cagle, 40, Joshua Blain Skutt, 39, Raymond Clifton Hawes, 56, and Kelly Porcelli, 50, were taken into custody and face numerous meth-related charges.
Arrest warrants indicate that officers confiscated meth precursor chemicals in the homes as well as plastic bottles which were used as "cooking vessels" to make meth.
Porcelli told the judge after no bond was set, "You do realize the people I'm trying to help put away are in here with me." The judge told her they would discuss the details of her case at her next appearance.
According to one of the assistant district attorneys, Charity Wilson, Hawes, Skutt and Cagle were recently seen in a video walking around Walmart for an hour and a half buying ingredients to make meth.
Wilson said the investigation and the arrests are the first steps to keep the community safe.
"These meth cases are so dangerous," Wilson said. "They're so volatile. There's such a likelihood that people could get hurt in them. That's why the SBI and the sheriff's department partnered together in making these safe for these particular homes and this community. We just stand behind them and we're going to do what we can to ensure the safety of our community."
Wilson said the judge didn't give the suspects a chance at bond because of public safety. If someone is charged with making meth, and there's evidence that they have a substance abuse problem with the drug, then they aren't eligible for bond.
A suspect's past plays a role in setting bond too, she said.
According to Wilson, Cagle was supposed to graduate from Coastal Horizons' drug treatment program Wednesday.
"Their prior criminal history becomes important in that respect if there are prior charges that support an argument to the court that that particular individual has a substance abuse problem or a particular dependency on methamphetamine," Wilson said.
All six have been appointed an attorney by the court. Their next court date is April 5.