'Ice' lab suspected from drug raid fumes
HILO » Big Island police officer John Weber had just reached the second floor of a rural Puna home that police were raiding last Thursday when he felt heat behind him.
Suddenly, officer Dominic Uyetake, who was with him, started to gag, and Weber felt himself having the same sickly reaction, Weber testified in Hilo District Court yesterday.
Turning, Weber saw a small, propane-powered hot plate on the floor with a white, milky substance cooking on it.
In the midst of the police and Drug Enforcement Administration raid on the house in Nanawale Estates south of Hilo, the officers had apparently come upon crystal methamphetamine being cooked from raw materials.
On entering the ground floor of the house, officers had already found bottles with the cold medicine Sudafed, one of the main ingredients for producing the drug known as "ice."
On Weber and Uyetake's physical reaction to the drug fumes, other officers in the raid quickly cleared the house of the seven people they found there and arrested them, Weber testified yesterday during a preliminary hearing for the seven suspects.
Weber and Uyetake were taken by ambulance to Hilo Hospital as a precaution.
Police charged the suspects with trafficking methamphetamine and promoting a dangerous drug. They were identified as Debra Lani, 51; James Lucas, 46; Leona Lucas, 56; Joseph Souza, 52; Donna Tarape, 54; Lionel Tarape, 56; and Gregory Wright, 53, all from Puna.
The suspects are being held in lieu of $100,000 bail each. The preliminary hearing for them will continue on Monday.