Suspect Killed in Drug Bust - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/17/02

Suspect Killed in Drug Bust

This trailer houses the lab. This trailer houses the lab.
Haz-mat suits were worn by agents clearing the chemicals. Haz-mat suits were worn by agents clearing the chemicals.

One man is dead, and two others arrested after investigators discovered a chemical powder keg. Drug agents went to a house in Candler County this morning, near Metter. Agents say they suspected people there were cooking crystal meth, but when they tried to search the residence, the suspects began shooting.

Agents say it gets even more dangerous when the drugs could explode, causing what could have been a routine drug search to became anything but. For weeks, drug agents of the GBI had been watching a house off Excelsior Road. Before 7am this morning, they surrounded the house and announced their search.

John Edwards of the GBI said, "When the agents tried to execute the warrant, there was an obstruction. As a result, the officers were involved in a shooting."

When the smoke cleared, one suspect was shot to death and two more were in custody. A quick search confirmed the travel trailer behind the house was one of the biggest meth labs ever found in the region. Agents say they normally find ounces at an average bust. Here they've found approximately three pounds and they're not finished yet.

"These suspects are extensively involved in trafficking here in this county and other counties," said Jeff Evans of the GBI.

Hazardous materials crews spent the afternoon removing the explosive chemicals used to make the drug. Sheriff Homer Bell will be glad to have the powder keg out of his county.

"This stuff is deadly. It can kill you just for trying to make it. The fumes can get in your lungs and kill you," he said.

Agents say the suspects could face state and federal drug charges. Investigators identify the dead man as 49-year-old Ralph Wiley Futch. Sheriff's deputies have in custody his brother Ronald Futch and Ronald's wife Lisa Futch. Inside the home, agents found an 11-month-old child. The infant has been turned over to Family and Children's Services.

 Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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