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Harnett County Man In Jail After Authorities Bust Meth Lab

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ERWIN, N.C. — A Harnett County man has been arrested in connection with a raid on a methamphetamine lab in Erwin on Tuesday.

Authorities charged Joseph Denning Jr. with numerous violations including manufacturing of crack cocaine, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Tuesday morning, two Erwin police officers responded to a domestic violence call at Denning's home on 211 East H. Street. When they arrived, they found items in the home that they believe may have been used for drug activity.

"Lt. (Henry) Hairr had been in the house for probably four or five minutes and he started feeling sick and started experiencing a 'high' feeling," said Chief Tom Chandler of the Erwin Police Department.

Hairr and Officer Dale Pope were treated and released from Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital.

Authorities cordoned off 10th, 11th, 12th streets for several hours.

Police and fire units from Erwin and Dunn recovered several chemicals used in the manufacturing process, as well as other drug paraphernalia and firearms. A hazardous materials team from Fayetteville was also called in.

"They were materials used to make crystal meth. We think it just started in operation," Chandler said.

The Hazmat team said there was no threat of chemical exposure to the neighborhood.

Denning is in the Harnett County jail under a $100,000 bond. Authorities said Denning's wife, Inez, did not know about her husband's drug activity.

"She was totally shocked. She was kind of suspecting that something was not right," Chandler said.

Residents in the area were equally shocked about what was going on in their neighborhood.

"I didn't really think something like that would be going on in this neighborhood because this is a quiet neighborhood," neighbor Vaneshia Parker said.

Methamphetamine is known on the street as meth, crystal meth, speed or crank. It is a powerful stimulant that produces alertness, however the effects do not last long.

Methamphetamine can be prescribed by a physician to treat attention deficit disorders and obesity. Symptoms of meth abuse include sleeplessness, appetite and weight loss, elevated body temperature, paranoia and anxiety.

During a national survey in 1999, more than 9 million Americans said they have tried meth. Most of those are out west, but the drug is moving east.

The Drug Enforcement Agency reported more than 7,000 meth lab busts in 1999. California had the most, followed by Washington and Missouri.

North Carolina was further down on the list with 6 busts.


David McCorkle, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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