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Drug lab leads to child abuse charges

(ran PS, PC editions)

A 38-year-old woman was charged with four counts of child abuse after four children were found inside her home near an active methamphetamine lab.

Marie Freeze of Ann Road west of Dade City remained at Land O'Lakes jail Thursday in lieu of $40,000 bail.

Deputies and narcotics officers found a methamphetamine lab next to the residence as well as dangerous chemicals, drugs and paraphernalia in Freeze's bedroom, according to a report with the Sheriff's Office.

One of the children had stood watch as the drug was made, the report said.

"The defendant further stated to investigators that she and her husband "shot up together' with the children present and then she fell asleep," the report said.

The home was "filthy," with dirty clothes strewn around, dirty dishes piled in the sink and garbage piled outside, it said.

A hazardous materials team was called in to help dismantle the lab.

The children, who ranged in age from 3 to 8, were placed with a child protective custody investigator, sheriff's Sgt. John Corbin said.

The children, he said, had been in a "highly volatile situation."

The chemicals used to make meth are extremely dangerous, he added.

"Not only are they hazardous to breathe, they are highly explosive," he said. "To have kids in there is absolutely out of reach."

Drug charges against Freeze are possible, he said.