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Teenager charged in connection with underground Amherst meth lab

Amherst police have arrested a teen in connection with an underground meth lab that was discovered two weeks ago beneath the parking lot of a suburban Walmart.

Police identified the 18-year-old man as Peter S. Miller – a former Amherst resident who most recently lived in Warren County.

Miller was arrested Thursday by Amherst Police Narcotics Detectives Ed Bailey and Todd Homberger and charged with third-degree unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Det. Lt. JoAnn DiNoto of the Amherst Police Narcotics Unit said Miller voluntarily came in to speak to detectives before his arrest.

DiNoto said Miller had been identified by police from surveillance video of the parking lot of the Walmart, which is located at Sheridan Drive and Bailey Avenue.

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DiNoto said she was unable to say when the meth lab had last been used.

“When we were down there it wasn’t actively cooking,” DiNoto said Friday.

“Though they had probably finished up what they were doing, there were still chemicals and the ability to continue to cook,” she added.

Amherst detectives said police uncovered the underground meth lab while on routine patrol Aug. 8.

Later that afternoon, firefighters from both Amherst and Buffalo companies, along with specially trained state police in hazmat suits, were lowered through a manhole in the parking lot, into a storm sewer underneath to investigate and clean up the small but potentially toxic lab.

The area was cordoned off to the public during the investigation and cleanup.

Seized from the manhole were an assortment of aerosol spray cans, various chemicals, plastic soda bottles, jars of clear liquid and suspected methamphetamine, which were laid out on a table under a white tent.

Access to the underground lab required slogging through a storm sewer – tall enough to stand up in – that runs the length of the parking lot.

Water trickled underfoot for those traveling through the dark tunnel to a spot about 800 feet from the storm sewer entrance.

In an apparent attempt to stay dry, whoever was working the lab used wooden pallets as makeshift flooring.

The pallets were removed and destroyed by town workers a day after police discovered the lab.

DiNoto on Friday could not say whether or not more arrests are anticipated in the case.

“The investigation is continuing, and we don’t know,” she said.

Miller was arraigned by Judge Kara Buscaglia.

Bail was set at $5,000 cash or $15,000 bond.

He is currently being held in the Erie County Holding Center and is due back in Amherst Town Court on Sept. 7.


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