NE Bend neighbors react to drug-lab discovery

First C.O. operation uncovered in over a decade

BEND, Ore. - Bend police are still investigating and not yet releasing more details on a suspected drug lab discovered at a northeast Bend home, but worried neighbors expressed surprise and concern Monday about the fund.

NewsChannel 21 talked with neighbors of the Broken Bow Drive home to get their views of what transpired over the weekend.

"It's kind of crazy -- I didn't really know what to think about it," Brittany Gates said. "I mean, I thought that there might be some drug activity, but nothing as bad as what happened."

Another neighbor, who declined to go on camera, said it's discomforting, knowing a drug lab was near his home. He also said he didn't have much interaction with the renter, except to complain about the residents being too noisy.

An investigation of sex crimes involving drugs led to Friday night's raid and the discovery of a drug lab in a bedroom, apparently the first found in Central Oregon in over a decade, authorities said. That in turn brought a hazardous materials team and others from across the state to help clean it up Saturday.

Deschutes County sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant around 8:30 p.m. Friday at 2770 NE Broken Bow Drive, resulting from an ongoing investigation of drug and sex crimes, said sheriff's Capt. Scott Beard.

A renter of the home, a suspect in the drug and sex crime case, was arrested during the raid, which Beard said turned up the drug lab and several unknown chemicals. Detectives immediately evacuated and secured the home and contacted a hazardous materials response team.

The haz-mat team responded, along with more resources from Oregon State Police, around 1 p.m. Saturday to clean up the lab and its chemicals, the captain said. He added that "drug teams from across the state came to help," as it's not been a common find in this area in recent years, and lab-certified crews are involved in clean-up operations

Beard declined to identify the arrested man, at this stage in the investigation. However, the sheriff's captain added that the homeowner "had nothing to do with it and doesn't live in this state" – though he could face the cost for residual clean-up.

Crime-scene tape, numerous police and hazardous-materials team members in their "clean suits" drew neighbors' concerns Saturday.

Beard said signs have been posted indicating that a drug lab was found inside and that anyone who enters would be trespassing. But the sheriff's captain said the haz-mat team disassembled the lab and cleaned the area, adding that "there are no public safety concerns or hazards regarding the investigation."

Beard said he could not yet speak to what drugs had been made there, pending a chemist's report. While methamphetamine labs were prevalent around the region a decade or more ago, he said other drugs might have been made at the home, mentioning MDMA (Ecstasy).

He also said it's the first such drug lab uncovered in Central Oregon, that he could recall, since at least 2004. In January 2001, a 20-member SWAT team uncovered a meth lab on Lava Drive in La Pine. In December of that year, a Redmond couple was arrested twice in a week on meth manufacturing charges, having allegedly set up a new drug-making lab in the days after their release from jail on the initial charges.

An epidemic of meth labs in the Northwest and other areas led Oregon in 2006 to make the precursor chemical pseudoephedrine a prescription drug, as it had been before 1976.

That put some common medications behind the counter, but it also prompted a sharp decline in meth lab cases in Oregon, from 190 in 2005 to 12 in 2010, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/precursor-chemicals ). Much meth production shifted in ensuing years, authorities said, to so-called "super labs" in Mexico.

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