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A bicyclist who was stopped by Columbus police because of safety concerns was arrested after an active methamphetamine lab was discovered in his backpack, police said.
Ricky Dean Miller, 23, of 3158 Alan Drive, near Taylorsville, was spotted at about 8:30 p.m. Friday running a stop sign near 10th Street and Cottage Avenue and didn’t have a rear reflector on his bicycle, Columbus Police spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said. Patrolman John Searle intended only to stop Miller and express concern for Miller’s safety and that of a passenger on his handlebars, Myers added.
After Miller and his passenger pulled over next to a building near 12th and Cottage, both provided Searle with verbal identities. However, Searle suspected Miller had given him another person’s name and called for additional officers to come and verify his suspicions, Myers said.
When Miller admitted he lied about his name because of an outstanding warrant against him for overdue child support payments, police conducted a body search and found a syringe in Miller’s pants pocket, Myers said.
When the other officers searched the immediate area, they found a backpack next to the building that contained an active one-pot methamphetamine lab, Myers said.
The one-pot method, also known as a shake-and-bake drug lab, can produce small batches of meth using a plastic soda bottle, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s website. However, the mixture, when active, can create hazardous fumes that easily explode if a lithium battery is combined with moisture within an enclosed space, the DOJ website said. Lithium batteries also often are used in manufacturing meth, Myers said.
Miller initially claimed the backpack was not his, but video from Searle’s on-board video camera showed Miller had dropped the bag next to the building, Myers said. Miller later admitted to police he was addicted to meth, Myers added.
“That’s very dangerous. The fumes could have exploded as he was traveling around,” Myers said. “A normal person wouldn’t carry a backpack that could have blown up while riding a bicycle. This situation shows addicts are capable of doing desperate things.”
Miller was arrested on charges of possession of an illegal drug lab, a Class D felony; unlawful possession of a syringe, a Class D felony; and false informing, a Class A misdemeanor.
The situation was hazardous enough that officers were ordered to back away from the immediate area until after experts from the Indiana State Police, the CPD narcotics unit and the Columbus Fire Department arrived to properly dispose of the active meth lab, Myers said.
Miller, who was booked into the Bartholomew County Jail at 9:24 p.m. Friday, was still behind bars Sunday afternoon in lieu of a $26,000 surety or $2,600 cash bond, according to jail officials.
If convicted on all charges, Miller could receive one to seven years in jail and up to $25,000 in fines. Formal charges, if any, will be determined by the office of Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash.
Miller’s companion on the handlebars was not arrested and therefore not identified by police, Myers said.
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