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Meth lab seized in Clinton

"Meth meeting at MaxweltonRepresentatives from the Island County Sheriff’s Office, including Sheriff Mike Hawley, will meet with Maxwelton-area residents on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Free Methodist Church at the corner of Maxwelton and French Roads to talk about last week’s methamphetamine lab bust. All Southend residents are welcome and encouraged to attend.When a man with a loaded rifle blocked local firefighters from putting out a reported trailer fire on a French Road property late last week, the Island County Sheriff’s Office figured it was time to get a search warrant.After watching the property for some time for suspected illegal drug activity, deputies and detectives swarmed over the 20-acre property early on Oct. 22 to find pretty much what they suspected to be there all along -- an illegal methamphetamine production facility.This week, Sheriff Mike Hawley said his agency seized large amounts of the chemicals used to make the synthetic stimulant from a large shipping container on the property, which is located in an isolated area about a quarter-mile west of the Island Greens golf course. Also discovered were the burned out remains of two travel trailers suspected to have been used to make methamphetamines. However, no arrests were made in connection with the drug production facility.Hawley said the fire that destroyed the trailers may have resulted from a careless manufacturing process. The chemicals used to produce the drug -- anhydrous ammonia, ephedrine, pseudo-ephedrine, lithium, and denatured alcohol -- are extremely flammable when combined. When Fire Protection District 3 firefighters were turned away from the fire by an armed man on Oct. 21, Hawley said that raised alarm flags for his office.Although the fire was bad news for the criminals manufacturing it, it was the break the sheriff’s office needed to get a search warrant for the property.“That was the kicker,” Hawley said Tuesday.Methamphetamines are a class of drug designed to mimic the effects of cocaine and speed. It gives a high that can last for days, but its use can stop a user’s heart. Currently one of the most popular illegal stimulants sold on the street, methamphetamines are inexpensive to produce and are widely available.Due to the toxic nature of its components, the state sent a team from its Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the French Road site. Such teams typically wear Tyvec “moon suits” to protect themselves from the chemicals used to manufacture the drug.Sheriff Hawley said his office’s investigation of this methamphetamine lab could take several months. He said he does not know to what extent the drugs produced there spread through the South Whidbey community."

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