Police investigate suspected mobile meth lab in U-Haul



DELAND, Fla. - A shopping plaza in DeLand became the scene of a potentially explosive situation Tuesday night.

Police said they discovered a suspected mobile meth lab inside of a U-Haul truck parked at the Victoria Square shopping plaza along 17-92, near Taylor Road.

The truck was parked next to a bus the martial arts business uses when a witness reported something suspicious.

Customers at Gator's Dockside and Wings got an eyeful along with their beers as they watched hazmat teams going through the truck.

Bartender Kelly Rocco watched while things unfolded during her shift.

"They closed down the parking lot and closed down the shops along this side," she said.

Gator's Dockside was the only business allowed to stay open.

DeLand police said it started with a caller reporting a man cutting a lock on a U-Haul.

Rocco said the truck has been parked in the lot for the last two or three days.

"Yeah, it has been. Somebody reported it and that's when they came and investigated it," she said.

Police were also alerted the 45-year-old man with the U-Haul was seen throwing items into a nearby garbage can.

Police said what they discovered were several chemicals and filters associated with making methamphetamine.

And police quickly decided to close down the parking lot and bring in the Volusia County hazmat team.

Some people watching said they immediately thought one thing.

"When I saw the white suits I didn't know what they were. Then when I saw them walking up to the U-Haul that was my first thought: they're cooking meth out of there," said witness Tim Faulkner.

Police said the man who claimed the U-Haul said he didn't know who put the chemicals inside his truck and thought they may have been loaded when his furniture was put in, so he got rid of them.

Hazmat crews located about a half dozen more containers of chemicals.

Police said they won't know what those other chemicals are until they can be tested, and at that point it's possible for the man to face charges.

The U-Haul was towed because the man hasn't paid them in the last three days, according to officials.