A 34-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman were arrested early Thursday morning when deputies investigating use of a stolen credit card to check into the Marriott at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra said they found them cooking methamphetamines in their sixth-floor room.
Corey Smith, of Panama Beach, and Amanda Underwood, of Nashville, Tenn., (both pictured below) were booked into the St. Johns County Jail on charges of producing methamphetamine, trafficking methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $46,000 each.
Deputies said they responded to the hotel at 1000 PGA Tour Blvd. just after 2 a.m. in reference to a guest using a stolen credit card to book the room. A hotel security personnel who went to the room to contact the occupants told deputies that items that could be used to manufacture methamphetamine were in plain sight.
Deputies who arrived a short time later confirmed the possible meth lab and notified detectives with the Sheriff's Office Clandestine Meth Response team, along with the county Hazmat team.
Four adjacent rooms were evacuated as a precaution.
Investigators said they found an active methamphetamine "cook" inside the room, along with other articles of drug paraphernalia.
"Thank God that there was a credit card issue that they had to check, because had this thing been cooking and been up and running it could've exploded," Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson said. "It could've endangered the lives of other people."
When asked about the location of the incident, Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said meth labs can be found anywhere.
"It's not a matter of here or there," Mulligan said. "It's a matter of where the individuals want to set up their shop."
The meth lab being investigated was a "one pot," something he said could easily be carried in a backpack, according to Mulligan.
The Sheriff's Office worked to dismantle the meth lab, safely ventilate the room and make sure there were no other issues.
"We're hopeful that within the next couple of hours, we can resolve our side of this and be off the property," Mulligan said Thursday morning.
By Thursday afternoon, everything at the hotel was back to normal.
Mulligan added that the Sheriff's Office frequently works with the Marriott at Sawgrass on special events and that the hotel was cooperating and working with authorities on this investigation.