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Suspected meth lab discovered north of IVC

September 26, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — A search for a stolen vehicle Tuesday led a county Sheriff's Office deputy to a residence northeast of here and to a suspected methamphetamine lab.

Ernie Limon, commander of the Imperial County Narcotic Task Force, said a deputy responded to a residence in the 300 block of Huston Road, north of Imperial Valley College, shortly after 6 a.m. Tuesday.

There the deputy spotted a vehicle, checked the license plate and determined it had been reported as stolen.

The deputy made contact with a man apparently living in a bus on the property and found the man, Francis Ronald Collins, 46, was on probation for possessing a controlled substance, according to the county Probation Department.

In searching Collins' bus, the deputy found what appeared to be chemicals and devices for manufacturing a narcotic.

Limon said NTF agents determined the bus was being used as a lab to manufacture methamphetamine.


Collins was arrested and booked into the county jail on suspicion of manufacturing meth and for a probation violation. His bail on the drug count was set at $25,000, but he was given no bail for the probation violation.

He remained in custody this morning.

NTF agents in full protective gear spent much of the day processing the lab, tearing it down and cleaning the scene.

Two agents suffered heat stress in processing the lab. They were treated at the scene and then taken by fellow agents to Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley. They were later released.

Limon said meth labs found in the Valley are typically small operations, producing a small amount of the drug.

Limon added breaking up such labs means the amount of the drug on Valley streets is reduced because such labs are supplying the local community more than sources outside the county.

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