2 arrested in meth lab bust; Children placed into protective custody

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CASSELBERRY, Fla. - A couple were arrested in Casselberry during a methamphetamine bust in a home where three children lived, police said.

Pipes, a gun, pills and contents of an active meth lab were found in the home on Carlisle Drive, officers said.

Investigators said Scott McFarland and Rachel Pernestti were arrested on numerous drug-related charges.

Officers said McFarland was also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Investigators said a loaded gun that was hanging by a magnet on the wall was within the reach of both children. That weapon, along with others pieces of evidence, was taken by police.

An 8-year-old boy living at the home was taken by Child Protective Services as he got off the school bus Tuesday.

A 13-month-old girl and 6 -year-old boy were also taken from the home and placed into protective custody.

When asked how much meth was found, Capt. David del Rosso said, "Probably more than what would be for personal use. They would be manufacturing to sell."

WFTV found Casselberry police have been to the home 25 times in the past year looking for wanted suspects and investigating drug calls.

The reason investigators were able to bring down the suspected meth lab on Tuesday was because Child Protective Services was called to check on the children over the weekend and the couple would not let them inside the home, officers said.

Casselberry police said the home was heavily guarded and not only did the couple have a keypad to get in, but they also had several surveillance cameras.

Channel 9 went to the home Wednesday, and neighbors were quick to jump to the couple's defense.

"There was no problems there," said neighbor Robert Hoffman. "They've spent time with me, and I've never seen anything wrong with them, no bruises nothing like that. They have always taken care of their children."

But police said the exposure the kids had to the meth-making materials could have been deadly.

"The home chemicals that are used to make it can burn up your insides, your eyes, everything," said del Rosso. "Meth is just bad chemistry for anybody. It's not normal to ingest. "

McFarland and Pernestti remain in the Seminole County Jail without bail.