MONTICELLO – Three men face drug-related charges following the execution of a search warrant on Wednesday, January 19.

Two of the men face charges related to the sale of marijuana while the third man is believed to be involved in the production of methamphetamine.

“We had been investigating the sale of marijuana from an apartment building on Ridgewood Avenue for about a month,” said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for Operation UNITE. “There was a lot of foot traffic in and out of the apartment.”

“They were selling to a lot of young kids. The operation was pretty wide open,” Smoot continued. “Both UNITE and the Monticello Police Department had received numerous complaints from citizens.”

After making several marijuana purchases over the past month officers were able to obtain a search warrant for the apartment. About 5 p.m. Wednesday, two UNITE detectives and three officers from the Monticello Police Department went to conduct the search.

“As they pulled up they spotted a man walking around outside. When he saw the police he made a beeline into that apartment and officers followed him in,” Smoot said.

The man, later identified as 25-year-old Joseph A. McDermott of West Columbia Avenue, Monticello, headed straight to the bathroom where he started pouring Coleman fuel, Liquid Fire, a bag of salt and a bag of lye into the commode.

“Monticello’s officers were able to get to him before he could flush them down the drain,” Smoot said, noting each of these items is used in the manufacturing process. “In addition, officers discovered a piece of rubber tubing in his pocket.”

McDermott, who had several outstanding local arrest warrants, was charged with tampering with physical evidence and manufacturing methamphetamine.

The latter charge was made possible due to a provision in legislation passed by the 2005 General Assembly that says only two or more chemicals or items of equipment needed to produce methamphetamine have to be present if it can be shown there is intent to produce methamphetamine.

“Mr. McDermott had five items on his person and he tried to dispose of them. That certainly indicates he was attempting to hide his illegal activity,” Smoot said. “In addition, he was recently arrested by another agency for manufacturing meth and an indictment in that case is still pending.”

Three other individuals were in the apartment at the time. One, who lived elsewhere, was released without charges.

Police charged the other two men – 67-year-old Willie Crabtree and his 46-year-old nephew Charles R. Crabtree – with trafficking in a controlled substance (marijuana) within 1,000 yards of a school.

The apartment is located near both the Monticello City Schools and Immanuel Christian Academy.

Both men face additional charges of unlawful sale of alcohol in a dry territory after 25 bottles of assorted whiskey and vodka were discovered, along with several rolled marijuana joints and nearly $200 in cash.

All three men were lodged in the Wayne County Detention Center.