Drug agents cleared a huge meth conversion lab out of a rental home in northwest Fresno Wednesday. It was located on Birch Avenue near Herndon and Spruce.
Investigators say the chemical fumes were so strong, they had to air out the home for three hours before going inside.
“At that point, any ignition source would have probably blown this house up,” said Commander Michael Ortiz of the Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force.
“Pretty wild. I didn't think it would happen in my neighborhood,” said Greg Johnson, a neighbor.
The Department of Justice calls it a major bust that will put a giant dent in local supplies of meth.
“It was able to produce about 100 lbs. a week of Ice. We’re probably looking at $1.5 million monthly profit. Taking out this organization will really impact the availability of meth on the streets in the Fresno area,” said Cdr. Ortiz.
Commander Ortiz displayed a couple of 4lb. bags of crystal meth. He said the bag containing the substance with a slight brownish color to it would go for about $24,000. The other bag full of more clear, white colored Ice had been washed with more chemicals. Its cleaner appearance makes that bag worth about $32,000.
The Department of Justice and Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force began this investigation back in March. They say this lab was being run by Drug Trafficking Organizations in Mexico and southern California.
A total of 13 people were arrested, men and women of all ages and ethnicities.
“They're doing sales out of their own houses and things like that, but this one was the head of the monster you might say,” said Cdr. Ortiz.
21-year old Orlando Delfin-Lara was caught inside the home Wednesday. Investigators also found several illegal assault weapons and an astounding 40,000 rounds of ammunition.
Setting up a stash house in a residential neighborhood may seem odd, but police say it's actually not.
“It's becoming more common. They're trying to blend in,” said Cdr. Ortiz.
Fortunately, law enforcement uncovered the illegal activity.
“Definitely very pleased it's gone,” said Johnson.
Agents say if you notice a strong odor of acetone, like a nail polish remover smell in your neighborhood, that's an indication of a possible meth lab so you should notify police.
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