December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Possible meth lab found in $1M Sheffield Lake home

3675 Lake Rd. Sheffield Lake on Apr. 18. Steve manheim

A co-owner of this $1.125 million home at 3675 Lake Road in Sheffield Lake faces charges in a meth lab investigation. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Madhu Sudan Dutta, one of the owners of 3675 E. Lake Road, was arrested Wednesday at the house.

Detective Olen Martin said the Drug Task Force has been investigating suspicious activity at the house since August, but new information came to light this week that led officers to go there.

Madhu Dutta

Madhu Dutta

Martin said Dutta was in the driveway when police arrived and invited them into his house. Once inside, he said, they sat at the kitchen table and Dutta gave them permission to conduct a search.

Officers found chemicals and equipment consistent with building a meth lab and then obtained a search warrant before continuing the search, Martin said. While there was meth in the house, it didn’t necessarily come from the lab, which wasn’t finished yet.

“It was not to the point where I would say it was a fully functioning lab yet,” Martin said.

After investigators, who wore protective gear because of the risk of exposure to hazardous materials, found the items, Dutta was taken into custody on charges of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs and permitting drug abuse.

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigator Dave Posten said the equipment seized from Dutta’s house was evidence of a sophisticated meth lab that has become increasingly rare in the United States. He said the lab used the “Thionyl/Chloride Method” of cooking meth, the first time such a lab has been found in Ohio.

“This process requires sophisticated equipment, chemicals and the ability to use the lab to manufacture meth,” a news release on the arrest said.

The far more popular method for cooking meth is known as the “one pot” or “shake and bake” method, which relies on plastic beverage bottles and common household items like drain cleaner, lithium batteries and camping fuel. That method is considered easier to cook with, although Martin said the quality of the meth likely wouldn’t have been as good as what the “Thionyl/Chloride Method” would produce.

Guns,computers and a hydrogen generating machine are just some of the items found after a meth manufacturing lab was closed in Sheffield Lake on Wednesday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Guns,computers and a hydrogen generating machine are just some of the items found after a meth manufacturing lab was closed in Sheffield Lake on Wednesday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Police also found three semiautomatic pistols and 11 rifles and shotguns, including a .223-caliber Bushmaster assault rifle with a loaded magazine, during the search of Dutta’s home. A large amount of ammunition also was confiscated.

Martin said although police are checking on the guns, they have no reason to believe that Dutta wouldn’t legally have been allowed to possess the weapons and ammunition.

In addition to the Drug Task Force, specially-trained Lorain police narcotics officers and BCI agents were called in to help clear out the lab. Meth labs are considered extremely dangerous because of chemical fumes and fire danger.

Sheffield Lake police and fire departments assisted during Wednesday’s raid.

This is the second meth lab the Drug Task Force and other law enforcement agencies have found in the county this month. Lorain police found a large meth lab using the “one pot” method on West Seventh Court on April 9. Police said that case remains under investigation.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.