The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 13, 2006

Meth lab prompts extra caution

Mobile home park evacuated

NICOLLET — It started at 7 a.m. Monday with a standard traffic stop in Bernadotte Township.

Eight hours later, all the residents of the 19 homes in a Nicollet mobile home park had been evacuated, one of the residents was locked up in the Nicollet County Jail and piles of volatile chemicals were spread out in front of Tracy Todd Anthony’s dilapidated home.

“This gentleman was putting all of his neighbors at risk,” said Sheriff Dave Lange.

Anthony, 43, is facing probable charges of driving while under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and 1st degree manufacture of methamphetamine. He also will be assessed for the cost of cleaning up the numerous toxic chemicals that had accumulated in his home during the alleged meth-making operation.

“It’s a rather large lab,” said Matt Grochow, director of the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force. “There’s a lot of waste.”

By 7:30 p.m., most residents of the typically peaceful Sunset Mobile Home Park were being allowed to return to their homes — all except the half-dozen closest to Anthony’s No. 14 manufactured home. The risk of an explosion had dissipated as the building had been aired out and the chemicals moved carefully to the lawn by Task Force Agent Bill Reinbold and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Ben Ritmiller, who were wearing protective suits and breathing gear.

There were Mason jars filled with the strike plates of matchbooks, which were soaking in acetone to extract the red phosphorous. There were empty boxes of Wal-Phed and Sudaphed that had supplied the pseudophedrine crucial to making meth. There were bottles of iodine and liquid Drano and rock salt.

There were Miller Beer bottles with tubing taped to the mouth leading to Mason jars filled with a clear liquid that, when strained through coffee filters, created the residue that could be dried into methamphetamine. And there were piles of stained coffee filters and other garbage that suggested this batch of meth wasn’t the first.

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