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By DARREN SIMON

October 31, 2001|Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — A traffic stop of an erratic driver here Tuesday led the Sheriff's Office and Brawley Police Department to break up an alleged drug lab operating in the city.

Three men were arrested in the drug lab bust — John Robert Staiger, 53, his son, Regie Anin Staiger, 26, and Kenneth Ray Luker, 22, all of Brawley.

All three were booked into the county jail on suspicion of manufacturing a narcotic.

John Staiger also was booked on suspicion of being in possession of a loaded semi-automatic handgun. His bail was set at $250,000. Luker's bail was set at $250,000, Regie Staiger's was set at $100,000.

The case started about 2 p.m. as county sheriff's Deputy Justin Tackett stopped a vehicle on Main Street and Rio Vista Avenue for erratic driving.

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According to county sheriff's Investigator Gabe Vela, the driver was the elder Staiger, who was alone in the vehicle.

Vela alleged Staiger was found with a loaded semi-automatic handgun. He was taken into custody and an investigation led deputies and police to Staiger's home at 198 E St.

When authorities arrived, they were met by the Regie Staiger, who reportedly was under the influence and was found to be in possession of a type of "modified" rifle ammunition. A rifle was found in the residence.

After interviewing Regie Staiger, authorities determined there was an active drug lab in the house.

At that time, the county Narcotic Task Force was called to the scene, along with the county hazardous material team and arson squad.

Neighboring homes were evacuated as the drug lab was cleared.

Vela called the effort to secure the crime scene a joint operation of several law enforcement and fire agencies.

He added it was a significant bust in that the drug lab's location made it a dangerous to those around it. The house is across the street from Gonzales Park, a block from Vons and not far from Barbara Worth Junior High School.

Vela added the lab was in an area where students walk to and from school.

He said such a lab could explode, causing injury to those in the area.

Vela said he was unsure of the specific narcotic reportedly being produced at the house, adding the materials found are being tested.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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