Drug agents watched man cook meth before arrest, documents say

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Police arrested three men Wednesday night in connection with a suspected meth lab operation in James City County. (Courtesy Matt Keithley)
Police arrested three men Wednesday night in connection with a suspected meth lab operation in James City County. (Courtesy Matt Keithley)

Police watched 36-year-old Sean Copley allegedly cook meth in a shed before arresting him and two other men Wednesday night, according to court documents.

New details of the men’s arrests Wednesday night have surfaced in court documents filed in the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court. Robert Copley Jr., 39, Sean Copley, and Byron Davis, 43, are all charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and other drug-related charges.

Tri Rivers Drug Task Force agents were conducting surveillance at a residence located at 120 Tanbark Lane in an ongoing investigation into the “manufacturing of methamphetamine in the greater Hampton Roads area,” according to a criminal complaint.

Agents watched Sean Copley for about an hour and a half, observing him allegedly cook the meth in the shed behind the residence, documents state. Both Robert Copley Jr. and Sean Copley’s addresses are listed at 120 Tanbark Lane.

While police watched Sean Copley, Davis arrived and stood in the doorway of the shed, talking to him as he allegedly manufactured the drug, documents state.

Around 7:10 p.m., police said Robert Copley pulled up in a gray Volvo station wagon, went inside, then left several minutes later.

After Robert Copley left, police detained Sean Copley and Davis and conducted a search of the shed, finding multiple glass jars, camping fuel, salt, cut lithium batteries, and other materials “consistent with the methamphetamine manufacturing process,” according to documents.

The criminal complaint says Sean Copley told police the “cook was ‘pretty much complete’ and that there was probably one to one and a half grams of meth in the shed.”

Sean Copley said he has about five people that purchase Sudafed for him with the excuse “that he broke his nose and needs more each month than he is allowed to purchase.”

Sean Copley also added that he doesn’t have a “ring” of people getting high off the methamphetamine he cooks, documents state.

When police took Davis into custody, they found a small gray camera case with drug paraphernalia and prescription Adderall pills, documents state. Davis told police he buys Sudafed to help Sean Copley cook the methamphetamine.

Davis also told police he only uses meth provided by the search warrant’s “target,” Sean Copley, two or three times per week, and that Sean Copley introduced him to meth “a few months ago.”

Police arrested three men Wednesday night in connection with a suspected meth lab operation in James City County. (Courtesy VPRJ and JCCPD)
Police arrested three men Wednesday night in connection with a suspected meth lab operation in James City County. (Courtesy VPRJ and JCCPD)

Later, police found the Volvo driven by Robert Copley in the parking lot of Farm Fresh, located at 115 Norge Lane.

After a K9 alerted police to the possible presence of drugs, police searched the vehicle, finding materials to make meth in a black duffel bag such as lithium batteries, ammonium nitrate, pseudoephedrine and drain cleaner, according to documents.

Police also found a powdery white substance they identified as methamphetamine.

Virginia State Police, James City County Police and James City County fire and rescue crews were on scene as the investigation took place, the release said.

Robert Copley was first arrested Wednesday night on a warrant out of Colonial Heights, police said, but is now facing charges of manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of two or more substances with intent to manufacture methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine.

Court records show Robert Copley was also arrested Oct. 6 after he was involved in a crash in York County. Police said he and a woman, Jennifer Kendrick, were operating a mobile meth lab out of the minivan involved in the accident.

In April, prosecutors agreed to drop three felony charges against Robert Copley, finding him guilty of one charge of possession of marijuana. Robert Copley avoided jail time after a judge suspended his entire 12-month sentence.

Sean Copley is charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of two or more substances with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, the release said.

Davis is charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and possession of Schedule II drug.

The investigation is still active.

All three men are scheduled to appear in the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 5. 

WYDaily archives were used in this story.

Fearing can be reached at sarah.f@localvoicemedia.com.

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