COITSVILLE TOWNHIP (WKBN) – Agents said as soon as they walked inside a home on John White Road in Coitsville Township, they could instantly smell the stench of acetone, a key ingredient in methamphetamine manufacturing.
Coitsville Township police, agents with the U.S. Marshals Office, Mahoning County Sheriff’s deputies and drug task force agents descended on the house near the Pennsylvania border Friday morning after a three-month undercover investigation into drug manufacturing inside the home.
Police estimate between 3 and 5 grams of methamphetamine was found. They said the estimated street value would be $500,000.
Five people were found inside the house. Three of them had outstanding warrants, including Aaron Knupp, who police said lives there and was indicted by a Mahoning County grand jury on drug charges Thursday. Police said Knupp had installed a motion detector along the driveway so he could see people coming and going.
A woman was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant out of Columbiana County. Another man who police said tried to get away as they were pulling up also was arrested. He has a warrant out of Austintown and also had some heroin on him, police said.
Officers called for a unit from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification to respond to the scene. The strong smell of volatile chemicals prevented agents from taking a complete inventory of the house, but said they immediately saw evidence of a methamphetamine operation in the basement.
At one point, paramedics were called after Knupp complained of breathing problems from the fumes inside the house, but he was checked out and led away in handcuffs.
Coitsville Township Police Chief Mike Morris said it was the township’s first meth lab operation. The practice is not that common in Mahoning County.
“We do run into this, especially in rural areas of the county, but it’s not as often and it’s not as prevalent as heroin and opiate abuse in the Valley,” said Mahoning County Sheriff’s Sgt. Larry McLaughlin.
Morris said neighbors complained about the house, which is what prompted the undercover investigation.
On Friday afternoon, one neighbor said she had been seeing cars coming and going at all hours from a house just down the street for quite a while. She actually started smiling when she learned what happened there.