Meth lab found in Chinese Camp

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By AMY LINDBLOM

A methamphetamine lab at a Chinese Camp residence was dismantled Monday night by Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department Narcotics Team deputies.

No arrests have been made, although deputies have a suspect, said Sgt. Jim Mele, head of the TNT. He declined to name the suspect. However, a man who lives at the home and is awaiting trial on methamphetamine-making charges left when deputies showed up to search the property Monday night.

The lab was capable of making 1 to 2 ounces of methamphetamine at a time, Mele said. The street value of an ounce of methamphetamine is $1,000.

Deputies went to the house on the 9900 block of Main Street about 8 p.m. Monday after a caller reported a man and his mother arguing at the house. Sgt. Joe Romeo talked to the woman, Alberta Allen, who gave him permission to search the house and property, Mele said.

Romeo found what appeared to be a methamphetamine lab in a shed, then called narcotics team officers, Mele said.

Mele said he and his officers found beakers, glass dishes and heating elements all known to be used in making methamphetamine as well as methamphetamine-making chemicals, packaging materials, a scale, a rifle and a small amount of methamphetamine.

A hazardous material cleanup crew removed the dangerous chemicals and trash.

The house and surrounding area were cordoned off while the crew worked for several hours at the shed and in trash piles on the property.

"HazMat took out two 55-gallon drums and nine 5-gallon buckets of hazardous material," Mele said.

On Sept. 11, 2002, a man and his son living at the house were arrested and booked on various drug charges. Dennis Allen, 46, is scheduled to appear March 28 in Tuolumne County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing. He is charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, possessing chemicals to manufacture methamphetamine, possessing a controlled substance and maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine.

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