Photo by Brian Giandelone
CONYERS -- Conyers Police discovered a truck carrying methamphetamine and a large amount of materials used to make the drug Friday morning during a routine traffic stop in front of Pine Street Elementary School and closed down portions of Olde Town Conyers.
The stop occurred about 6:40 a.m. when a Conyers Police officer pulled over a Ford Ranger pickup truck on Pine Street by the school.
"There was a smell coming from the truck and two guys acting pretty suspicious," said Conyers Police Chief Gene Wilson. "Through the investigation, the officer determined the elements were there in the truck to make methamphetamine."
The men arrested were identified as John David Gray, 39, of 2060 Christian Circle, Conyers, and Terry Lynn Johnson, 50, of 14060 Brown Bridge Road, Covington. Both were taken first to Rockdale Medical Center to be decontaminated and were later booked into the Rockdale County Jail.
At the jail both Gray and Johnson were charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacturing of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, forgery and possession of drug-related objects. Gray had the additional charge of driving with a brake light out.
A hazardous materials team from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency arrived at the scene shortly after 7 a.m. to begin the work of sifting through the materials found in the truck. The work was completed by early afternoon.
"As you can see on the truck there is bag after bag after bag, and we are going to have to go through the bags here to make sure there's not something really dangerous," Wilson said at the scene.
The safety perimeter set up by police initially covered a large area covering the Rockdale County Courthouse and several county government offices, residences and businesses. After an assessment of the crime scene, the safety perimeter was dropped down to 200 feet, which forced the evacuation of Pine Street Elementary School, The Rockdale House for Women, and county Tax Assessors and Human Resources offices for part of the day.
Before school started on Friday morning, students were taken by buses and their parents to nearby schools. Prekindergarten through second-grade students began the school day at C.J. Hicks Elementary School, and third- through fifth-grade students attended Conyers Middle School.
After receiving clearance by the Conyers Police Department about 10:30 a.m. Friday, school staff and buses transported students back to Pine Street after lunch time.
"As always, the safety of our students and staff is our top priority," said Pine Street Principal Kim Vier.
Rockdale County workers affected by the closure gathered at the county Government Annex Building at 1400 Parker Road. The county offices were opened to the public at 11 a.m.
It was the second such arrest in the city of Conyers this year. On March 17, Conyers Police stopped a Chevrolet Blazer on Old Covington Highway behind Home Depot and arrested a man and a woman. In that incident, police said they "immediately recognized" it as a rolling meth lab.
As a coincidence, the people arrested in the March meth bust were sentenced this week in Rockdale County Superior Court after they pleaded guilty to similar charges.
Wilson said he was cautious calling Friday's bust a rolling meth lab until all of the evidence had been filed.
"Now whether or not they were literally cooking it in the truck right then is somewhat of a question," Wilson said. "We're not sure, but with the smell on them it would not be out of the question."