A loud bang that startled an eastern Sioux Falls neighborhood Friday evening was the sound of what police say is a growing problem in the city: small-batch, mobile methamphetamine manufacturing.
JayJay Stanton Coronado, 29, was driving a white Buick LeSabre on East Sixth Street while he and Kristy Jeanee Wilker, 38, made methamphetamine in a 20-ounce pop bottle in the front seat using a formula known as the “one-pot” method.
The small-batch, pop-bottle-sized operations have become more common since a state law restricted access to Sudafed, a key ingredient in meth. Sioux Falls Police spokesman Sam Clemens said police have found more than 50 such labs in the city since 2012.
The method involves smaller, easier to obtain quantities of chemicals, but Clemens said the mixture is just as volatile.
A car fire was reported near Sixth Street and LaSalle Avenue at 6:44 p.m. Friday. Police say the couple’s one-pot meth lab ruptured, burning both Coronado and Wilker and setting their car on fire.
Coronado continued to drive down Sixth Street and struck a light pole. Before backing up from the pole, they tossed out their burned clothes and what remained of the lab. They continued driving through the neighborhood as residents called police to report the burning car, which stopped in the parking lot of Oak View Library, 3700 E. Third St.
“The car had two flat tires. I don’t know if that’s why they finally stopped or if it was because of the injuries they received,” Clemens said.
Emergency responders found both Coronado and Wilker with burns to various parts of their body. A small amount of meth was found inside the car. They also found another one-pot meth lab inside the truck.
Coronado was airlifted to a burn unit at a Minneapolis hospital. Wilker was treated and released from a local hospital. She appeared in court Monday afternoon. Both are from Sioux Falls.
Both suspects are charged with possession of a controlled substance, manufacturing a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. They face up to 15 years in prison.
Lori Ehlers, a deputy state’s attorney for Minnehaha County, asked Judge John Schlimgen to hold Wilker on a $10,000 cash-only bond, citing the danger she put herself and the surrounding community in.
“This act was extremely dangerous and dangerous to the community. (Wilker) is lucky that she was not hurt worse or even killed and lucky no one else was hurt or killed considering this happened in a public area and that it happened inside a vehicle,” Ehler said.
Schlimgen set bond for Wilker at $5,000 cash or surety.
Mobile Meth Lab Explodes In SF
A mobile meth lab explosion in Sioux Falls is drawing more attention to the hazards of manufacturing drugs. Two people were burned when their one-pot meth lab burst Friday evening, starting a car on fire.
JayJay Coronado, 29, suffered chemical burns so bad he was airlifted to a burn unit in Minnesota. Kristy Wilker, 38 years old, was treated in Sioux Falls. Both face charges including possession and manufacturing of a controlled substance.
Officer Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department says people are taking big risks when they mix chemicals for drugs, and that’s exacerbated in a car when they combine caustic chemicals in vessels like pop bottles to manufacture meth.
“It’s so mobile, and you don’t know really where somebody could be making it. They could be making it pretty much anywhere,” Clemens says. “In the past, we saw those big labs, typically in more isolated areas, but they would hit other places. But with this one-pot, it could be anywhere. That’s the scary part of it.”
Clemens says the volatile chemicals can explode and start fires, as they did the over the weekend. He says that’s the main danger mobile meth labs pose to the public, because people usually have to be close to the fumes or chemicals to harm their health.
Clemens says anyone who sees what looks like suspicious chemicals in a bottle should call police. He says otherwise people can suffer burns if they try to clean it up themselves.