PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- A couple has been arrested for making meth at one of the most prestigious resorts in Northeast Florida. A spokesperson for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office says an active meth lab was found on one of the upper floors of the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa early Thursday morning.
Sgt. Chuck Mulligan tells Action News 34-year-old Corey McGann Smith and 29-year-old Amanda N. Underwood checked into the resort using a stolen credit card. The stolen card tipped off hotel security. When a security guard showed up to investigate, he spotted equipment that is used for cooking meth. The security guard is a former law enforcement officer who knew the signs of a meth lab and called the sheriff's office.
Deputies say the lab was in the process of actively cooking drugs when it was discovered.
Five rooms near the meth lab were evacuated as HAZMAT crews went in to begin the cleaning process. Sgt. Mulligan says the cleanup was difficult because the room was on an upper floor and crews had to bring in pipes to pump out potentially hazardous air and chemicals.
Investigators described the lab as a small "one-pot" operation. While the size of the operation may have been small, Action News has learned the danger posed by one of these devices is still high. Small units similar to the one discovered in the resort have the power to blow a hole through a wall. Sgt. Mulligan estimates the cost of the cleanup could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Smith is from Panama City Beach, Underwood is from Nashville, TN. Both are being held on $46,000 bond.
Statement from Marriott
Statement from Marriott International:
"We can confirm we had an incident at the hotel earlier today that resulted in the involvement of the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department. As soon as we were made aware of the matter we involved the police who responded promptly. The safety and wellbeing of our guests and employees is of the utmost importance to us. As a matter of precaution we relocated a few guests. The authorities have indicated they believe this to be an isolated incident and that there are no safety concerns. As such, all guests have returned to their rooms and the hotel has returned to normal business operations at this time. The matter is currently under investigation and we are cooperating fully with the authorities as they look into the matter. We are appreciative of the fast response and thorough work of the St. John’s County authorities. As this is an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further. If you have additional questions please contact the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department."
Jeff Flaherty, Corporate Communications, Marriott International