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Meth Lab Hotel Condemned, Guests' Belongings Inside

5:35 AM, Mar 14, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Just one day after a meth lab bust, the Homestead Studio Suites Hotel in Baymeadows is condemned.

The city deemed the building unsafe, causing problems for guests not involved with the meth lab.

"I like living in a hotel," said Mike Smedley.

Smedley and other guests were moved to another hotel, but his possessions were left behind and Smedley is unable to go back to his room or retrieve his belongings.

Smedley said he was told it could be up to a month before he's back in his room.

Sgt. Greg Foxworth with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's Drug Abatement Response Team, or DART, told First Coast News they believe the suspects were running eight pots of meth. "With those chemicals, you just don't know how it's going to affect people short term or long term."

Foxworth confirmed it could be several weeks before the hotel is reopened, and said that would only come after passing air quality checks. He said any costs incurred will fall on the hotel.

"They own it and they're responsible to a large extent to what goes on there sort of under a premises liability theory," said Donald Mairs, a Jacksonville criminal trial lawyer.

Mairs said on top of the hotel's lost revenue and cleaning costs, there's the possibility of lawsuits from employees and guests.

"Then you've got the guests who don't have any reason to believe they're breathing in or they're exposed to chemicals," Mairs said.

But Smedley said he isn't worried about the chemicals; he just wants his belongings and his apartment back.

Sgt. Foxworth believes the meth was being cooked for months, and told First Coast News if management or housekeeping had done room inspections more frequently, the meth lab might have been caught earlier.

There have been six meth lab busts so far this year in Duval County, according to JSO.

First Coast News learned there are six addresses in Duval County registered as clandestine or meth labs by the DEA.

There are 20 more in surrounding counties.

Finding a large amount of cold tablet containers that list Ephedrine or Pseudoephridine as ingredients is a common sign of clandestine labs.

Other signs include jars containing clear liquid with a white or red colored solid on the bottom.

And coffee filters containing a white pasty substance, a dark red sludge or small amounts of shiny white crystals.

For more indicators, visit the DEA's website.

First Coast News

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