CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. - After a weeklong trip to Mexico, a local teacher's assistant was arrested by federal marshals at Charlotte Douglas.
Authorities arrested Marc Hodges for allegedly making meth after investigating him for weeks.
A neighbor tipped off authorities. He was looking for aluminum cans in the trash when, according to a search warrant, he found the ingredients to make methamphetamine.
Police said they linked the trash back to Hodges after finding utility bills with his name in the garbage. He is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.
Hodges worked at the Caldwell Career Center Middle College, helping in a lab for online courses for high school students.
According to court documents, police began investigating the case in February, when they were tipped by a local business that Hodges bought more than 1,000 boxes of matches and peroxide from the business. Narcotics officers said the striker plates on the matchboxes are often used to make meth.
Police then got a tip from a neighbor last week after seeing similar items in the trash.
“Books of matches and balloons and two-liter bottles that had some weird stuff inside,” a neighbor said. “Every garbage bag he went through, there were several boxes of matches.”
Deputies said after going through the garbage, they found a meth lab inside Hodges’ apartment, which is above where J.R. Harvey lives.
“I was sitting watching TV and someone banged on my door and it was the sheriff and he said, ‘Get out of the apartment, the place could blow up,’” Harvey said.
But deputies said Hodges was nowhere to be found. They said he had left the country to vacation in Cozumel, Mexico for spring break.
When he got back this weekend, he was arrested when he got off the plane.
Students at the school are still in shock.
“I liked him. He wasn't that bad of a teacher,” student Anthony Large said. “He was nice and all."
The school district said Hodges also worked as a substitute teacher for several years at Granite Falls Middle School. After his arrest, the district said he was terminated from his position.