(SUMMERDALE, Ala.) - Summerdale Police have busted plenty of meth labs, but never one where a concerned caller locked the suspects in with a padlock.
"First one I can honestly say the bad guys had to kick their way out rather than us kick our way in," Chief Eddie Ingram told Local 15.
On Sunday night, Ingram said a caller notified them of a meth lab in a camper at American RV Park on Highway 59. The caller mentioned there was a possibility children were inside.
When Summerdale Police arrived, assisted by Elberta and Silverhill officers, they found the children safe at another trailer and converged on the camper.
"We came up and saw a padlock on the door," Summerdale Police Officer Vincent Miller said. "We knocked and heard them fumbling around inside, possibly destroying and flushing evidence down the toilet."
Officer Miller said the meth cooking duo didn't realize they had been locked in.
"They had to kick their way out," Officer Miller said.
Inside, investigators found a full and working lab.
"There was a haze up to the ceiling," Chief Ingram said. "You couldn't see from one end of the camper to the other."
Ingram said the two men had just moved in three weeks ago, and were a far way from home. Damon Levi New, 34, of Indianapolis and Craig Roberts Gentry, 32, of Dallas, were arrested on the spot for manufacturing meth.
"They think they can stay under the radar in these small towns," Chief Ingram said. "We taught 'em that's not the case. We're a small town that stays on top of everything here."
While the concerned caller may have kept the meth cooks from getting away by locking them in, Chief Ingram said he doesn't encourage anyone else to do the same.
"It worked out real well but these [meth labs] can be potential fire hazards," Ingram said. "They can explode and [the suspects] could have been trapped."
Ingram said in the past 16 months alone, Summerdale Police have busted three meth labs and made more than 40 arrests at the same RV park.