LONG BRANCH, N.J. — A veteran Long Branch cop was charged Sunday night with housing a methamphetamine lab in his family basement, authorities said.
Officer Christopher Walls’ double life was discovered after fellow cops were called to his home on West End Avenue for a domestic disturbance.
A child was living in the household, according to officials.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor said the home contained chemicals that are highly explosive, so Hazmat teams were called in.
Walls, 50, has served the Long Branch Police Department for 19 years, but he was immediately suspended without pay after his arrest. He is facing multiple criminal counts, including second degree “risking widespread injury” and third degree “manufacturing CDS (methamphetamine).”
He faces a total of 60 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
“The officers in our agency risk their lives daily to protect and serve our residents,” said Acting Long Branch Police Chief Frank Rizzuto. “It is disappointing beyond measure that one of our officers could have risked the safety of his family and neighbors by engaging in such dangerous conduct. This officer’s actions do not reflect the moral compass of our officers or this agency.”
Long Branch police were called to Walls’ house at 10:36 pm on Sunday night, receiving a report of a domestic disturbance. When officers arrived, another person in the house said Walls was involved in “suspicious narcotics activity,” according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.
The New Jersey State Police and the Hazmat Unit responded to the scene. They found “materials, chemicals and instruments consistent with a methamphetamine laboratory in both the basement of the residence and in a shed on the property,” according to the prosecutor. Methamphetamine residue was discovered in chemistry-related glassware at the site, according to the New Jersey State Police.
The prosecutor’s office and Long Branch Police narcotics unit also revealed Walls was in possession of books related to making methamphetamine, explosives and poison.
Police also found a large, open and unsecured gun safe in the house, which contained two long guns, four handguns, eight ‘high-capacity’ magazines, and a large quantity of ammunition.
Methamphetamine, a psychostimulant, is becoming increasingly popular in the Northeast region, after traditionally being found in places like Missouri and Michigan.
Back in January, PIX11 News spoke to Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
He said meth seizures had skyrocketed in this region by 214% in the last year.
Donovan said methamphetamine is primarily manufactured in Mexico and the cartels there were pushing its use in the United States.
Also in January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health warning about meth.
The New York region is a “hub” for meth distribution.
Meth also has markets in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, South Jersey and Philadelphia.