SHEFFIELD LAKE — A “thionyl method” methamphetamine lab — the first of its kind in Ohio — has been discovered in a lavish lakefront home in Sheffield Lake.
Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office says the Lorain County Drug Task Force arrested Madhu Dutta, 51, this week after executing search warrants at his home, 3675 East Lake Road, Wednesday and Thursday.
Dutta is charged with possession of precursors or chemicals for the manufacture of methamphetamine, manufacture of methamphetamine and permitting drug abuse in real estate.
Cavanaugh said Dutta lives alone and has lived in the home, which is valued at nearly $900,000, for about a year. The lab was not in complete operation, but there were enough chemicals and equipment to warrant the charges, Cavanaugh said.
The thionyl method is unique, Cavanaugh said, because of “the type of system, the chemicals being used, the specific type of equipment, and you have to have some knowledge or ability to be able to do this.”
He said the chemicals being used were commercial grade.
Not only is this the first meth lab of its type in Ohio, “There hasn’t been that many reported in quite a few years across the whole country,” Cavanaugh said. He added that this type of lab is “extremely toxic.”
He did not know if Dutta has a scientific background or what sort of work he does but said he owns a business of some sort.
Cavanaugh said his office began receiving complaints about suspicious activity at Dutta’s home in August 2013. He was unsure if Dutta was attempting to manufacture meth for personal use or to sell.
Authorities also took three handguns, 11 “long arms,” which included shotguns and automatic rifles and a large quantity of ammunition from the home.
The Lorain County Drug Task Force was assisted by the Lorain police Narcotics Unit, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the Sheffield Lake police and fire departments.
Dutta remained in the Lorain County Jail Friday night.
Possible Methamphetamine lab found in $1M Sheffield Lake home
SHEFFIELD LAKE — The Lorain County Drug Task Force found what police believe to be an under-construction methamphetamine lab in an East Lake Road home that was purchased for $1.125 million last year.
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.
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.
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.