Suspected meth lab in Fairbanks raided

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Drug investigators kicked in the door of a motel room Thursday and interrupted two men in the middle of cooking what is suspected to be methamphetamine.

Three drug investigators went to the Ranch Motel Thursday morning and knocked on the door of one of the units, said Alaska State Trooper Teague Widmier, an investigator for the statewide drug enforcement unit in Fairbanks.

They didn't get an answer, but ''all of the a sudden we heard jars clinking,'' Widmier told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. He kicked in the door and interrupted the two men inside as they were trying to flush chemicals down the toilet and bathtub drain, Widmier said.

''The hot plates were still hot and the odor was very strong,'' said Widmier, indicating authorities likely caught the two men in the middle of cooking meth. ''The Mason jars were just empty, laying on the bathroom floor and bath tub and they had water running in the tub,'' he said.

Authorities said they were tipped off to the operation.

Jeffrey Franks, 41, was arrested on a warrant and a charge of probation violation for a prior meth bust. Bruce Barcus, 41, was charged with fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance after investigators found traces of meth inside his pockets, Widmier said.

Investigators also found traces of methamphetamines scattered throughout the room, he said. Widmier thinks the suspects had been using meth all night long because the pair wouldn't stop twitching, a trait associated with methamphetamine use. Widmier called the suspected lab a medium-sized operation.

An agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration and investigators from the Fairbanks University of Alaska police departments helped collect samples from inside the hotel room.

The samples will be sent to the state crime lab and, pending test results, Barcus and Franks could face more charges.

Widmier said they found toluene, acetone, matches for red phosphorus and iodine, all highly flammable and toxic ingredients used in cooking meth.

Because the toxic chemicals used in making meth can seep into the carpet, draperies and furniture, motel owner Donna Gilbert said the apartment won't be livable until it's stripped clean of the lingering chemicals.

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