MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Neighbors say it took more than a year for Memphis Police to get a meth lab out of their East Memphis neighborhood.
Now, it's business as usual on Helene Road.
Resident Jane Umpress is getting her heating and air replaced. Nathaniel Hoch is picking up his grandmother. Diana Ray's babysitting an 11-month-old girl.
But Mark Wickenhauser's "business" came to a crashing halt on the evening of January 3, 2012. Police arrested him and Mark Gabriel for manufacturing meth.
"I don't know that we've had that many cop cars on the street since I lived here," Umpress said.
"It just came out of the blue," said Hoch. "I was out with some friends last night, they came over dropped me off, there was cops all down the street."
Ray added, "I think it was pretty wild, we knew they were doing it, me and the lady across the street. We're happy that they got caught."
The trash can outside is a rare sight. Neighbors said they noticed Wickenhauser hauling away garbage bags in his truck rather than using city services.
"They didn't ever have their garbage come out, they never had any garbage to take to the street," Ray observed. "But they were always bringing stuff in constantly."
But it was a slip up with the trash can that helped cops catch their guys. The morning of the bust, an undercover officer watched Wickenhauser push the garbage can to the curb; in it he found more than a dozen empty lithium packages, empty salt packages and coffee filters with a white powder substance. It was enough evidence for the search warrant neighbors had been hoping for.
"I talked to the police about a year and a half ago and they told me I had to call when they were actually cooking," Ray said. "Once they moved inside I didn't know when they were doing it until afterward because you could smell it."
According to the police report, the two men bought more than 480 grams of pseudoephedrine over the last five years. Ray said they tried to get more.
"He just asked me to do him a favor one day; he needed some cold medicine could I go get him some? And I already knew what they were doing so I had to tell him, you think I'm an idiot or something?"
Both men are charged with initiation of the meth manufacture process, possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture/deliver/sell, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony and promoting the manufacturing of methamphetamine. They are being held without bond at the Shelby County Jail and are due in court Jan. 5th.