Federal drug enforcement agents arrested four Californians living in Salt Lake City and seized laboratory equipment used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, commonly known as "speed," officials said Friday.
Brian McCartney, 23; David Garcia, 19; Penny Dietsch, 25, and Stacie Kiner, 22, were booked into Salt Lake County Jail in connection with federal charges of possession and intent to distribute a controlled substance, a jail official said.U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Salt Lake police officers converged on a home at 169 E. Kelsey Ave. about 3 p.m. Thursday and seized the contents of the laboratory, including chemicals, beakers and other equipment, said Steve Lough, DEA special agent.
Three of the four were arrested then, while the fourth was arrested about 3 a.m. Friday, he said.
Methamphetamine, a strong stimulant, had been made in the home since it was rented from an unsuspecting landlord May 1, Lough said. An estimated 16 pounds of speed was manufactured in that length of time, he said.
Agents seized two pounds of the substance, worth a street value of $30,000, Lough said.
"We determined they cooked about 2 pounds of finished product each time they would process," he said.
Agents have known since March that methamphetamine was manufactured in a Salt Lake City laboratory and made several undercover purchases of speed from the source. But the plant was frequently moved, foiling attempts to locate the laboratory, Lough said.
The owner of the home was suspicious of the new tenants.
"We thought there was something wrong, and now we know," the owner said, after arriving at the house to see police officers and plain-clothed DEA agents in his yard.
Salt Lake fire crews were called to the scene to ventilate the home's basement, the location of the speed lab, to clear fumes related to the manufacture of the drug.
"The (manufacturing) process is very volatile," Lough said. Toxic fumes from the manufacturing process were lingering in the home's basement, the laboratory's location, and could have exploded, he said.