Five suspects, including a 15-year-old female, were arrested Nov. 1 after authorities raided a methamphetamine lab in Bexar.
Officers of the 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force and Fulton County Sheriff's Office conducted a search at the residence owned by Chris Stepp at 10983 Highway 223 South.
Agents discovered and disassembled a fully-operational methamphetamine lab, said 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force Chief Investigator Scott Russell.
Stepp, 42, was allowed to remain at his residence due to health reasons. He has been formally charged but was released on his own recognizance due to the severity of his health problems, Russell said.
Additional arrests included: Richard Crabtree, 34, of West Plains, who is also on felony probation in Fulton County for drug violations; Larry Bell, 39, of Mountain Home; a juvenile authorities think is Bell's wife, age 15; and Susan Combs, 30, of Wynne.
Stepp was not arrested because he is disabled and maneuvers through the use of a wheelchair, Fulton County Deputy Paul Martin said. He also suffers from diabetes, Martin added.
Authorities had the location of the bust under surveillance for several months, Martin said.
The operators of the lab were using the red phosphorous method of manufacturing the drug, Russell said.
Officers seized numerous chemicals, pseudoephedrine, precursors and components used in the manufacture, including some finished methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, he said.
A HazMat crew from Little Rock was dispatched to clean up the site and remove the hazardous chemical and waste produced during the production of methamphetamine.
Officers were on the scene from midnight to around 6 a.m. until the cleanup could be completed.
The suspects are incarcerated in the Izard County Detention Center because the Fulton County jail is full, Martin said. The juvenile is being held in the Independence County jail, Martin said.
Charges were filed by Prosecuting Attorney Don McSpadden's office for manufacturing a controlled substance, methamphetamine, a class Y felony, with a 10-year enhancement for manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of a minor; possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to use, a class C felony; and possession of pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, a class D felony.
Bell received an additional charge of possession of methamphetamine, a class C felony.
Russell said a class Y felony carries a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 40 years or life in the Arkansas Department of Corrections upon conviction. The enhancement for manufacturing in the presence of a minor carries a mandatory 10 years of incarceration without parole in addition to any sentence for the manufacture charges.
Russell said authorities think the juvenile is married to one of the suspects. He said they also think she played a role in the manufacturing process.