Tupper man pleads guilty to mobile meth lab; DA says meth cases increasing in county

TUPPER LAKE — A Tupper Lake man pleaded guilty Monday to manufacturing methamphetamine, a felony, stemming from a March 2018 arrest where village police discovered a mobile meth lab in his car.

Christopher Jessie, 41, was then sentenced by Judge Derek Champagne to three years in state prison and two years of post-release supervision at Willard Drug Treatment Center, a Department of Corrections facility for people whom the court finds that their charges are based on substance abuse problems.

Jessie was arrested on Kildare Road at around 10 p.m. on March 7, 2018. Sgt. Jordan Nason, along with his K-9 unit, JD, approached Jessie’s car, which was parked on the side of the scarcely populated road. According to police, JD alerted to something inside the car, and Nason recognized the material needed for a “one-pot” meth lab.

The lab was not active at the time, according to Franklin County Chief Assistant District Attorney David Hayes, and the state police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team searched through the vehicle the next day.

At the time, Jessie was on parole for a previous methamphetamine charge.

He initially pleaded not guilty to the March 2018 charges at his arraignment before pleading guilty on Monday, which Hayes said is standard. Jessie was also charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor, but that charge was not addressed in Monday’s court proceedings.

Increasing cases

Hayes said these types of cases have become more frequent in Franklin County in the past two years.

“We’re seeing more of the methamphetamine cases,” Hayes said. “When I first started with the DA’s office, we maybe had one every year, now I think in the past year-and-a-half, we’ve seen probably five or six.”

Hayes said most of these are manufacturing charges, and they all use the same one-pot setup, which is mobile, and can be used in a car. He said this is dangerous because it usually requires using a soda bottle to handle “extremely hazardous materials.”

State and local police are investigating these cases, Hayes said.

“They develop leads so they have a general idea of where these cooks are happening, who is conducting them,” Hayes said. “I mean, yes, sometimes they do stumble upon them, but usually it’s not a surprise.”

(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said David Hayes is the Franklin County district attorney; he is the chief assistant DA.)