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Police bust largest meth operation in two years

Officers also find car parts and determine power was being stolen from neighbor

Sheriff's deputies discovered a large drug lab and stolen car parts Wednesday, Oct. 11, in what one deputy called the largest methamphetamine bust he's seen in two years.

Originally, deputies with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office went to a house in the 7600 block of Southeast 162nd Avenue at 1 p.m. on a report of electricity being diverted to the home's pole barn from a house south of the property, said Lt. Jason Gates, a sheriff's spokesman.

There, deputies contacted three people, including a 37-year-old man who lived on the property, and two women, ages 22 and 29 who did not appear to live there.

The subjects cooperated with deputies and permitted them to search the property. The house didn't appear to be occupied, but inside the pole barn, deputies found stolen Toyota 4Runner parts and a meth lab. They also confirmed that $390 worth of power had been diverted from a neighbor.

Deputies seized between 60 to 80 gallons of liquid chemicals, plus solid substances, much of it toxic bi-product of manufacturing meth, Gates said.

In 2004, the sheriff's office's Clandestine Drug Lab Response Team investigated more than 60 meth labs.

Then in early 2005, legislation took effect cracking down on over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in methamphetamine.

That year, the number of labs investigated dropped by 58 percent to 25. This Wednesday's bust is the team's eighth bust this year.

Gates said even if meth cooks get their hands on pseudoephedrine, state legislation has so severely restricted the amount that can be purchased, meth cooks can't manufacture as much of the illegal substance.

Instead, they just buy it, breaking into homes and cars to fund their habit.

'All those crimes that are associated with the meth culture are alive and well,' Gates said.

Also, the amount of meth seized, and in theory used, has not dropped, Gates said. In fact, Mexican drug cartels are just pumping more meth into the community to meet the increased demand.

Due to their cooperation and because they didn't pose a flight risk, deputies released the trio, of whom the male is considered the true suspect, Gates said.

A grand jury will decide what charges to indict them on, but possible charges include second-degree manufacturing a controlled substance, first-degree theft for the car parts, second-degree theft for the electricity, trespassing and criminal mischief.

Reporter Mara Stine can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 503-492-5117.