UPDATE: 3 arrested, 8 children rescued in Vernon County meth lab - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

UPDATE: 3 arrested, 8 children rescued in Vernon County meth lab busts

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Officers Remove Chemicals from Meth Bust Officers Remove Chemicals from Meth Bust
Diane Franke, 41 Diane Franke, 41
Amber Brown, 39 Amber Brown, 39
Todd Brown, 46 Todd Brown, 46
© Decon Team at Gundersen-St. Joseph's Hospital in Hillsboro © Decon Team at Gundersen-St. Joseph's Hospital in Hillsboro
Hillsboro, WI -

Three people are in custody and eight children are safe after they were rescued from a suspected methamphetamine making operation in Hillsboro in Vernon County.

The Vernon County Sheriff's office arrested Diane Franke, 41, Amber Brown, 39, and Todd Brown, 46, all from Hillsboro. They are facing charges related to manufacturing methamphetamine. Officers arrested a 19-year-old female but released her without charges.

Officers from the County Sheriff's Department along with the Department of Criminal Investigation, and the West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group (M.E.G.) raided two homes in Hillsboro Thursday around 11 a.m. One house was located on Heights Road, the other was the old Staley School on Staley School Road.

After months of investigating, local drug enforcement officials finally busted two separate active meth labs. "This is a big deal," said Vernon County Sheriff John Spears.

"One of the most dangerous we've seen," said Tom Johnson, Investigative Coordinator with the M.E.G. Unit.

In both houses officers found evidence that the people living there were cooking what's called red phosphorous meth, that can produce deadly gas.

These people are not chemists, they're users and dealers and have issues, said Sheriff Spears. 

Officers also rescued eight children from the homes, ranging in age from 10 months to 17 years.  The had rashes and showed signs of exposure to the dangerous chemicals used in the meth making operation.

"The hardest part for everybody is the children, they're young...that's the hardest part to think people would expose their own children to these type of living conditions and dangerous chemicals manufacturing and that stuff that's involved with these drugs," added Sheriff Spears.

There were also grandparents living at one of the homes, who officers say had no clue what was going on in their basement.

Officers estimate they found more than several grams of meth during the bust and that one of the homes may have to be demolished because of all the chemicals.

Johnson said, "In the scheme of things in meth labs...this is one of the more dangerous methods to manufacture methamphetamine."

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