Squatters take over Artesia home, set up meth lab

Posted at: 05/14/2014 5:18 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It’s probably in the back of your mind every time you leave for vacation.

“Will my home be safe from criminals while I’m gone?”

One New Mexico man found out the hard way, it wasn’t.

It happened in a calm and quiet neighborhood in Artesia.

“This neighborhood is quiet, did we know that was going on in our neighborhood?” said Betty Clark. “Not one of us knew."

But this week, neighbors were in for a surprise.

“No idea whatsoever of something like that taking place in our neighborhood," said Cathy Pennington.

The homeowners were out of town.

But the home was not empty.

Neighbors alerted the homeowners about seeing something suspicious.

They called police.

Drug Task Force agents say inside of the garage they found indicators of a meth lab.

Police believe squatters moved in while the homeowner was away.

Police say the squatters left materials used to cook meth behind, they also stole things from the home.

Evidence of the meth lab was bad enough, but right across the street from the home is an elementary school.

“I have kids walk back and forth across this street on a regular basis going and coming to school," said Clark.

The owners were not home when we stopped by.

Police say they’re usually out of town for long periods of time.

“It’s just shocking to know that something like this was taking place three houses down," said Pennington.

Police say they do have some suspects in the case.

So far they haven’t arrested anyone.