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Residents shocked and concerned about meth, marijuana, moonshine discovery

Published On: Jul 10 2013 05:03:29 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 10 2013 10:41:49 PM CDT

A three-pronged drug discovery has a Bristol man facing charges and a neighborhood in shock.

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. -

A three-pronged drug and alcohol discovery has a Bristol man facing charges and a neighborhood in shock.

Not only was the home just a few hundred feet away from a school, but News 5 confirmed with deputies that children were living at the home at the time.

Residents who live nearby told us they can't believe what was happening behind closed doors.

The flames that spark just to neutralize a meth contaminated plastic bottle are proof of just how dangerous a one-pot meth lab can be. Click here to view photos from the scene of the arrest.

"The only thing between those chemicals and an explosion is a thin layer of plastic. If the bottle fails [or] the plastic fails, it could explode," said Leslie Earhart, the public information officer for the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department.

Tuesday, Sullivan County officials found more than 50 of the one-pot bottles along with marijuana grow lab and a moonshine still locked inside a basement of this home on Virginia Avenue in Bristol, Tennessee. Click here to read more about the arrest.

43-year-old James Skeens was arrested and is now facing various drug charges, including promotion of meth manufacturing process and possession of a still.

Neighborhood residents told us they're still in shock to find out such a major operation was so dangerously close. "I was just pretty flabbergasted," said Clarissa Verzino, who lives just one house away from the home where the drug bust occurred.

"[I] just don't like it that close to my house, you know. This neighborhood is a good neighborhood. You would never think that was going on close to your home," said Fred Keen, another Virginia Avenue resident.

Authorities said Skeens would cook several batches of meth at a time, sometimes right outside the side door.

Clarissa Verzino said that explains a funny odor she and her husband would often smell. "It was coming right into our bedroom at night, and I don't need to have that smell or I don't want it in my neighborhood," said Verzino.   

Now all this evidence is in the hands of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force.

Not only have authorities seized drug operations, but the home is now being quarantined by officials. "They are in the process of collecting samples inside the home to see what levels of methamphetamine are inside," said Earhart.

Residents hope neither meth, marijuana, nor moonshine make an appearance in the neighborhood ever again. "I'm just glad that it's gone," said Verzino.

Officials told News 5 if you see a large amount of small plastic bottles with residue lying around, a collection of blister packs from pseudoephedrine, or battery packaging that you feel is suspicious, report it to police immediately.