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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New breed of meth lab uncovered in Sibley, raising new concerns

Monday, February 28, 2005

Northwest Iowa law enforcement agencies are used to seeing meth labs crop up in old farm buildings and quiet neighborhoods.

They aren't used to the kind of meth lab they found this week in Sibley. Members of area law enforcement agencies, including a member of the Spencer Police Department, converged at 703 Sixth Avenue in Sibley to investigate a red phosphorus methamphetamine lab.

Anhydrous ammonia is a key ingredient in 90 percent of the meth labs found in northwest Iowa. Authorities say iodine and the striker plates off match books and road flares are used in the red phosphorus method. It's more common on the West Coast and in metropolitan areas.

The phosphorus, when combined with iodine and other ingredients, gives off heat, making that method of cooking meth highly volatile. Sibley authorities brought in the Iowa State Patrol Entry Team to serve the search warrant as a precaution.

"It's pretty uncommon around this area," said the Spencer Police Department's narcotics investigator, Chris Nissen. "We did have one here in Spencer back in August of 2001. This manufacturing process isn't the normal type that we see in the area. That's why we converged together - to learn about it a little bit and help Osceola County out with the investigation."

Nissen said authorities arrived at about 7:30 a.m. to serve the search warrant. They remained at the Sibley residence for more than four hours on Monday.

Osceola County authorities found the meth ingredients during a search of a garage at the residence. Officers also found a small amount of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia at the location. Authorities in Sibley have not yet filed charges in the case and the investigation is ongoing, according to Osceola County Sheriff Doug Weber.

The 2001 case in Spencer led to the arrest of Christopher Duane Ferguson, who was 20 years old at the time. Police were called to a residence at 104 West Park Street. Due to the volatile nature of the lab, the federal hazardous materials team was called to Spencer from Kansas City to remove the materials.

The local police department also may have a new methamphetamine concern to deal with following a burglary at Medicap Pharmacy on Grand Avenue in Spencer. A quantity of ephedrine was taken from the store and officer suspect the theft is related to the illegal drug.

Police began their investigation after an alarm went off at 11:43 p.m. Saturday. When police arrived at the location, they discovered a forced entry in the rear, or west, door of the business.

Anyone with information regarding the burglary should contact the Spencer Police Department at 262-2151 or their local law enforcement office.

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