There are some big advantages to hiding your meth lab inside a vehicle. Just ask Walter White. His Breaking Bad crew spent five seasons evading the DEA and local cops in part by cooking crank in a dilapidated mobile home in the New Mexican wilderness.
John Day wasn't quite that creative, but police say the Key West man did rig an old white van into a rolling meth lab that traveled the Keys while brewing speed -- until he got caught this past Saturday.
Day, a 47-year-old sailboat rigger, made one vital error: Lacking a desert to hide his mobile lab, he preferred holing up in Stock Island neighborhoods.
Enough neighbors had sniffed out the chemical operation inside the van that by this weekend, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office had issued a be-on-the-lookout order for the vehicle on suspicion it was a "rolling methamphetamine lab," according to a police report.
A Keys deputy had the report in mind early Saturday morning when he spotted the van parked in a Tom Thumb lot around 1:30 a.m. The back doors were open, and two men were throwing items into a dumpster.
When the deputy got permission to search the van, he quickly found a stash of marijuana and reams of meth-making equipment: 250 Sudafed tablets, coffee filters, clear tubing, lithium batteries, lye, and vats full of chemicals.
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The men at first claimed the equipment was all "garbage," but then the officer questioned Day's companion, 24-year-old Scott Gunter, about whether he was a meth user.
"I asked Gunter if he had ever used methamphetamine in his life," the officer wrote in an arrest report. "Gunter admitted he was currently high on methamphetamine."
The deputy booked Day and Gunter on meth production and possession charges. And the old white van was towed away to storage.