The drug lab next doorPolice to test apartment and building for methamphetamine
By Andy Hallman
The Washington-Louisa Drug Task Force executed a search warrant of a room at Goncho Apartments last month looking for signs of methamphetamine. The task force found signs of meth, which prompted the Washington Police Department to declare one of the rooms off limits.
Room 3D at Goncho Apartments is closed and is still being investigated after law enforcement discovered meth inside. Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman said the police are about to test the common areas in the apartment building to see if they, too, are contaminated with meth residue.
Goodman said he didn’t know when the rest of the building would be tested but said it could happen any time. Once it’s tested, the samples are sent to a lab and the results are known 2-3 days later.
If the samples come back positive for meth residue, the police could evacuate the entire apartment complex.
“We expect the testing of the common areas will be done soon,” Goodman said. “We’re trying to make sure the entire building is OK. We know that 3D is contaminated, and now we want to know what other parts of the building are contaminated.”
The city has an ordinance which requires a home or apartment to be cleaned before it can be rented again if meth was found inside.
“Those houses that had meth were closed until they were stripped clean and rehabilitated,” Goodman said.
Goodman said he’s worried about the occupants of Goncho Apartments coming in contact with meth residue.
“They could get it in their mouths,” he said. “One good thing about Goncho’s is that it does not have forced heat, so the air is not circulating. We know there are drop ceilings in there. We don’t know if the ceilings go all the way to the next floor. That’s what we need to check out.”
The drug task force executed the search warrant at that room in Goncho’s because the task force learned that it was the home of Ronald Wayne Boileau, who was one of three people arrested in Washington on Dec. 5 on charges of manufacturing meth.
Eric Weber, who is leading the drug task force’s investigation into the meth discovery at Goncho’s, said it’s possible that a person could manufacture meth in an apartment without his neighbors finding out.
“[Meth makers] have transitioned away from the anhydrous ammonia method that was common in Iowa to the one-pot method,” Weber said. “The odors from the one-pot method are not as strong, so detection by others is less common.”
Weber said law enforcement have begun to see more meth labs in town and in populated areas because of the new method.
“The handling of anhydrous ammonia was risky and volatile,” he said. “It’s tough to contain it. That’s why DNR regulates the handling pretty well. Someone trying to transport that around was taking on a lot of risk. People avoided populated areas in apartments and in town because of the odor it gave off and the risk.”
Weber said meth makers are now more brazen about manufacturing meth around other people, such as in apartment buildings and cars. However, the new method is also more dangerous because the chemicals used are so easily ignited.
“The risk of fire is much greater with the one-pot method,” he said. “The flammability of the chemicals is so high.”
Weber said he could not disclose the exact items that the task force discovered at 3B in Goncho’s other than to say the task force found evidence of meth. He said that meth labs are very dangerous and that people who live around them are in peril.
“Those chemicals can ignite in a large fire and you’re not going to stop it,” he said.