Inner Northeast meth lab meets its end
Six people are arrested after discovery of 'fairly large-scale' operation
Six people await court appearances after being arrested during what officials described as one of the largest methamphetamine lab busts in the city of Portland.
Sgt. Tom McGranahan of the Portland Police Bureau's drugs and vice division said the house at 51 N.E. San Rafael St. stood out because there were so many different chemicals there for manufacturing meth, and in large amounts.
'You don't see large labs up here,' he said. 'Usually, we see what we call 'Beavis and Butt-head labs.' ' He described the latter as labs that produce a few ounces of meth, make a small profit and have five chemicals or so on hand.
At this lab, he said, investigators spent 14 hours taking samples of 32 chemicals in different stages of meth production, including ephedrine tablets, iodine and the highly hazardous red phosphorous.
McGranahan said he wouldn't call the lab a superlab Ñ a producer of 20 pounds or more of meth Ñ but it was 'fairly large-scale' and capable of producing several pounds. It's rare to find labs of that size in the city, he said.
There was also evidence of a fraud operation inside, common in homes of methamphetamine users, according to senior neighborhood officer Roger Axhelm.
Axhelm said neighbors for the past few weeks had complained of drug trafficking. Police collected their observations and made an undercover drug buy at the house, and North and Northeast Precinct officers executed a warrant May 22 at the residence. They didn't expect to run into a lab, he said.
All six occupants of the house were arrested. Michael T. King, 44, and Karen Blackie, 40, face various drug charges. Homer T. Howard and Larry Bradley, both 54, were charged with frequenting, which applies if a person has control of a house and is aware of drug sales going on there. James J. Grubbs, 34, and Matthew T. Henderson, 26, were arrested on outstanding warrants.
The house is now boarded up and will be cleaned by toxic waste crews at the homeowner's expense, police said.
Police say meth manufacture and use traditionally have been most widespread in Southeast and east Portland, while North and Northeast have been devastated by crack cocaine.
'We're seeing more meth coming into the area,' Axhelm said, noting that addicts favor the drug because it is cheap, widely available and easy to make and produces a long-lasting high. 'These (labs) could be anywhere.'
He said residents should report suspicious activity to the police. The citywide number to report drug tips is 503-823-0246.