LECANTO, Fla - After responding to a residence in reference to a stolen vehicle, Citrus County deputies say they discovered a whopping 24 one-pot meth labs at a nearby double-wide mobile home in Lecanto.
Theodore Benfield , 37, and Lesle Benfield , 35, of 678 Fairlane Terrace, were arrested and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine with children under 16 present, possession of a listed chemical with intent to manufacture a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.
Three children, all under the age of 16, were removed from the home by DCF.
"I've never seen this many one-pot methamphetamine labs in a single home," remarked Tactical Impact Unit detective Aidan Marshall.
The "one-pot" method, also known as "shake and bake," has become popular in recent years because it was designed to get around laws restricting the sale of ingredients used to make meth, deputies say.
They added, by using something as simple as an empty two-liter soda bottle, common ingredients are combined to produce a chemical reaction which results in crystalline powder that users smoke, snort or inject.
According to deputies, the process poses a huge risk to those producing meth and anyone near one-pot cooks due to the buildup of pressure inside the "pot" and the subsequent exposure of certain ingredients to the air.
These reactions cause explosions, fires and potentially fatal chemical inhalation.
"TIU methamphetamine detectives and Fire Rescue hazmat operators could not even enter the residence without protective breathing apparatuses due to the fumes. The conditions inside the home were absolutely deplorable and it is unbelievable that parents would subject their children to those extremely hazardous conditions," Marshall added.
Deputies say to date, the CCSO has never encountered a meth operation this large.
"I have said it before and I will continue to say it, we will not tolerate meth production in this county, " said Sheriff Dawsy.