CIRCLEVILLE - A local couple avoided a scheduled trial Monday in Pickaway County Common Pleas Court by pleading to their involvement in what investigators called the "largest and most elaborate" methamphetamine operation they had ever seen.
Ronald L. Hedges, 45, of 6365 Hitler Road #2, pleaded no contest and was found guilty by Judge P. Randall Knece of aggravated possession of drugs; illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs; and trafficking in drugs.
Beth A. Hedges, 52, also pleaded no contest to her charges and was found guilty of two counts of attempted illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs.
Both are currently free on bond and will be sentenced in about six weeks following a pre-sentence investigation by the court.
According to Sheriff Robert Radcliff, an undercover operation led to a search warrant April 9, 2014, at the Hitler Road #2 residence, which was found to be rigged with warning alarms and surveillance cameras. Multiple guns and blasting caps also were discovered on the property in addition to the methamphetamine, he said.
The operation was so large that investigators could not neutralize it on the scene. The chemicals were packed and turned over to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for processing.
The Pickaway County Sheriff's Office was joined in the effort by the U.S. 23 Major Crimes Task Force, the Ohio Organized Crime Unit, and the Ross, Pike and Franklin County Sheriff's offices. The Clearcreek Fire Department assisted with clean-up at the scene.
While his first case from April was pending in Pickaway County Common Pleas Court, Ronald Hedges was arrested again Aug. 15, 2014, after another search warrant led to the discovery of a "substantial amount" of methamphetamine at the residence that investigators said was already packaged and ready for use.
The two cases were combined as part of Monday's plea.