Thursday, July 29, 2004

Indictment says 2 ran
‘ice’ lab in Navy condo

A federal grand jury has indicted two men on charges of operating a crystal methamphetamine lab in a Navy housing project.

Jimmy Yasay, husband of a Navy enlisted woman, and Faleu Liilii, who also lived at the home, were charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, manufacturing it and using the residence to manufacture, distribute and use the drug. Each of the three counts carries a maximum 20 years' imprisonment.

The case was the first stemming from a crystal meth lab on military property in Hawaii, U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo said yesterday at a news conference.

Inside the Navy housing apartment kitchen, the two men were allegedly "cooking" two to three 3.5-gram batches of "ice" a week, the indictment said. They used red phosphorous and iodine obtained through the Internet and pseudoephedrine tablets purchased from the Navy Exchange and Commissary, according to the indictment.

Other ingredients included lighter fluid, acid, lye and automotive cleaning solvent (containing methanol).

The apartment on Peltier Avenue in the Radford Terrace Naval Housing contained significant amounts of residue of the drug Tuesday despite several cleanings since the arrests two weeks ago.

The case prompted Kubo to push yesterday for state laws that would require decontamination of meth lab sites and disclosure of their locations.

"Anyone who is living in a home that was previously used as a meth lab site should be careful because they could be living in a very, very contaminated and highly poisonous environment," Kubo said.

At Kubo's direction, members of the Hawaii National Guard Counterdrug Unit tested the apartment using a calibrated ion scanner, which registered 300 nanograms of methamphetamine. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram.

The ion scanner, however, did not test for other chemicals. Each pound of methamphetamine produced leaves behind five to six pounds of toxic waste.

Kubo said he expects the problem of meth labs to increase in Hawaii as they have in mainland cities. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has investigated 7,000 meth labs across the country.

Last year, police busted 11 meth labs at various locations on Oahu.

Exposure to meth lab fumes and residue can pose serious health threats, causing lung damage, cancer and even death, Kubo said. He cited the case of two investigators who died after entering a home where a meth lab was found.

Innocent, unknowing homeowners and tenants reported nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, rashes and other symptoms at former meth lab sites, he said.

Kubo emphasized the need for the public to be educated about the health hazards of meth labs. Even in homes where "ice" was smoked, dangerous toxins remain.

There is no requirement in Hawaii to clean up or disclose information about a meth lab at the sites.

After law enforcement officers raid a site, there are no procedures or requirements in place to decontaminate a home.

Kubo said cleanup costs could run from $2,500 to $70,000.


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