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Police take down local meth lab

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By Carol A. Clark

An investigation that began 13 days ago led police to the Saturday morning discovery of a meth lab inside a bedroom at 3629-A Villa St.

A photo and information about the woman at the root of the investigation, Leslie Katherine Draper, 23, was featured in Thursday’s Monitor.

“The community is the hero in helping us shut down this meth lab,” said Los Alamos Police Cpl. Jeremy Duran, the lead officer in the case. “Some concerned citizens approached me after observing a group of people all buying Sudafed at Smith’s in White Rock,” Duran said.

“In checking further we determined this same group was buying Sudafed at the Smith’s in Los Alamos and Santa Fe and probably the Walgreen’s in Española.”

Pharmacy officials later contacted Duran to report the group bought 10 large boxes of matches, seven large bottles of Iodine and two large bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide, he said.

“These items are all precursors to a meth lab,” Duran said. “In conducting some follow up investigations some anonymous sources said that Draper was the one cooking the meth here. We obtained a warrant discovered the meth lab chemicals in her room.”

Draper was not home when Duran, Det. Doug Johnson and Ofc. Eric Wilhoit exercised the Magistrate Court Warrant at 8 a.m. Saturday at the home.

Police made it clear the homeowner simply allowed Draper to stay at her home while she completed her treatment and was not part of their investigation.

“We evacuated nearby residents and are working with state police and the Clandestine Meth Lab Unit out of Albuquerque to address and remove all hazardous materials,” Johnson said.

All three officers praised local citizens for being alert and willing to report their suspicions.

“This is community policing at its best,” Wilhoit said.

Johnson and Duran agreed. “Because of the Monitor article and the help from our citizens, we were able to close down this dangerous meth lab in less than two weeks,” Duran said.

Draper is wanted both in Alabama, where she is charged with possession of a dangerous controlled substance, and in Los Alamos where she now faces additional charges.

Draper arrived in Los Alamos last October to enter a court ordered treatment program, according to police reports.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Draper is urged to call police at 662-8222 and they can remain anonymous.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her blog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.