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Nearly Two Dozen Illegal Guns Found During Meth Lab Bust


The Madera Police Special Investigations Unit conducted an investigation into a residence in the county off of Avenue 18 near Road 19.  Investigators received information regarding illegal gun manufacturing occurring inside the residence.  In late April, there was a shooting related to a robbery on the same property, .223 rifle casings were recovered from that incident.

Officers executing the search warrant on Wednesday found a methamphetamine box lab, butane hash oil conversion lab and a cache of weapons.  Officers seized over 20 firearms from the residence.  Some of the firearms were high powered rifles, an illegal M-11 sub compact machine pistol, shotguns and handguns.  Steve Smith (36 years old) was taken into custody for numerous charges related to the manufacturing of illegal weapons, as well as a host of drug manufacturing charges.  Smith is being held on $1.5 million bail at Madera County jail.

These types of meth labs are dangerous because the solvents released during the manufacturing of methamphetamine are highly flammable, and the toxic fumes don’t dissipate, they get absorbed into the walls and carpets, contaminating the entire home.  This meth lab is referred to as a “box lab.”  A box lab is a small lab that is portable and produces smaller amounts.  The lab seized would produce approximately an ounce at a time.

The butane hash oil labs are also highly flammable and have been the cause of numerous large residential fires.  Butane hash oil labs extract the THC from the Marijuana plant.  THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that causes a person to get “high.”

The Fresno Meth Task Force (FMTF) and Environmental Health were called in to remove the chemicals, equipment and anything else may have been contaminated.  The owner of the property was advised that he is responsible for any costs incurred during additional clean-up.  Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) were also called in to assist in the investigation.

Meth labs were very prevalent in our county over a decade ago.  Due to the enforcement actions by the Department of Justice, Fresno Meth Task Force (FMTF) and HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area), along with tougher laws, the county and city has seen a reduction in meth labs.
This case remains under investigation.  Anyone who may have information about this lab is asked to call Madera SIU at 559-675-4253.
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