Walmart meth lab suspect gets new court date

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A 43-year-old Sylacauga man who is facing charges alleging he brought a rolling methamphetamine lab to the Alabaster Walmart parking lot in February is now set to appear in Shelby County District Court in August after his original May court date was continued.

Thompson

The Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force arrested Griffin Allen Thompson on Feb. 23 and charged him with one count of unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance is a Class A felony, and is punishable by up to life in prison upon conviction. As of May 24, Thompson was being held in the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling more than half a million dollars.

Thompson originally was set to appear in court on May 17, but his preliminary hearing was rescheduled to Aug. 23 through an agreement between the prosecutors and defense attorneys.

On the evening of Feb. 23, patrons and employees at the store approached an Alabaster police officer who was on his regular patrol at the store and reported Thompson was acting suspiciously.

The APD officer then located the suspect in a vehicle in the parking lot, and a police K-9 indicated there was a controlled substance in the car, said Task Force Commander Lt. Clay Hammac.

After the K-9 hit on the vehicle, the APD alerted the Task Force, the Alabaster Fire Department and the Pelham Fire Department to help secure and decontaminate the scene. Hammac said Task Force officers discovered an active “shake and bake” meth lab in the suspect’s vehicle, and said the lab was dangerously close to exploding.

Dressed in Class A Hazmat suits, which is the highest level used by the Task Force, investigators were able to stabilize the lab and keep it from exploding or emitting potentially deadly vapors, Hammac said.

The AFD and PFD then decontaminated the Task Force investigators, following standard safety protocol, and the agencies declared the scene safe and reopened it to the public at about 9:30 p.m.

A few days after he was arrested in Alabaster, additional charges of unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a forged instrument were brought against Thompson following a Task Force search of his residence.