James Johnson and Amanda Stern of Tamarac, Florida were arrested recently after they were accused of operating a meth lab out of their apartment in Versailles Gardens, news sources indicate. Johnson, 49, and Stern, 31, were taken into police custody of charges related to the manufacture of methamphetamine. It is unclear whether a bail bond was set for the defendants. It is also unclear whether either of the accused has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
Reports say that Johnson and Stern resided together at Stern’s single-bedroom apartment in the Versailles Gardens condominium complex, located along the 800 block of Fairview drive in Tamarac. During their time there, neighbors alleged that they often smelled strange odors emanating from the unit. Alarmed by this, the neighbors alerted authorities, who dispatched officers to the residence.
Investigators knocked on the unit’s door and were greeted by Stern. She reportedly gave the officers permission to search her home, and investigators allegedly located a number of materials related to the manufacturing of methamphetamine in the residence. These materials included pseudoephedrine, drain cleaner, and cooking fuel, reports indicate. It is unclear if any other materials were found, as drain cleaner and cooking fuel can easily be found in standard homes.
Once the officers confirmed that drug-manufacturing materials were indeed on the premises, they called in members of the DEA to assist in the arrests. Johnson, reports say, admitted to the investigators that he had been actively producing meth out of the one-bedroom apartment for a number of months. He also purportedly divulged that he had been cooking meth out of other locations for the last four years. Within that period, Johnson claimed that he made around two batches of meth every 30 or so days. Each batch allegedly netted him anywhere from a quarter to four grams of the drug. According to sources, a gram of meth can go for $100 to $150 dollars, though it is not known how much the couple is suspected of selling and how much they purportedly used.
Johnson reportedly told detectives that the meth was for personal use, and that Stern would occasionally use it as well. In some instances, Johnson purported that he would exchange the meth for prescription drugs, sources say.
During the time of the investigation, reports say Johnson told investigators that he was in the middle of cooking a batch, “but he thought he made some type of mistake and was unaware if any was actually produced,” a spokesperson from the DEA noted in a report.
Pseudoephedrine, a key component in the process of cooking meth, is heavily restricted and only sold to those who present a valid I.D., sources say. What is more, after a person has purchased nine grams in one month, they are legally prohibited from purchasing more until the next month. To bypass this hurdle, Johnson reportedly told investigators that he would hire people, including his girlfriend Stern, to buy pseudoephedrine for him. Reports say that Stern admitted to this activity and purported that she would often buy the materials for Johnson in return for meth.