Assault call leads to meth bust, 5 arrests

Ramona Boulevard blocked, part of hotel evacuated Friday afternoon

Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:21:06 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 18 2013 09:54:28 PM EST
Meth lab investigation on Ramona Blvd.

What began as a call about an assault in a car on the Westside on Friday morning became an investigation into the manufacture of methamphetamines, the partial evacuation of a hotel and five arrests.

A witness called police to report an assault in progress in a vehicle on Normandy Boulevard about 11 a.m. The witness followed the car until police caught up with it on Romona Boulevard, west of Lane Avenue.

After a traffic stop, the car pulled forward near the parking lot of a hotel. Police say there were five people in the car, some of whom the officer recognized from a previous encounter. He also smelled a foul odor he thought could be illegal drugs, then saw weapons in the car.

Meth lab room at Executive Inn The officer called for backup and narcotics investigators, and all five people were evacuated on a charge of armed conspiracy to manufacture or distribute methamphetamines. Their names were not released at the scene.

The JSO bomb squad and Jacksonville Fire-Rescue Hazmat team were called to check out the car and a room (pictured, right) at the nearby Executive Inn, where some or all of the suspects had been staying. Adjoining rooms were evacuated Friday afternoon as a precaution, as the manufacture of meth can be highly volatile.

Part of Ramona Boulevard was closed in the area much of the afternoon. It reopened just after 6 p.m.