Investigation continues into suspected Hayden meth lab
January 31, 2011
More details emerged Monday in the police raid of a suspected methamphetamine lab in Hayden on Saturday, but no arrests had been made as of Monday evening.
Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins said Monday that law enforcement officers removed "very explosive and flammable" materials Saturday morning from the suspected lab in a home at 340 E. Jefferson Ave.
Wiggins, who gave similar information to the Routt County Board of Commissioners during a briefing Monday afternoon, said by phone that the materials included lethal chemicals used in the making of meth. He also said a "death bag" — a garbage bag used to trap toxic gasses produced while making meth — was removed from the home.
In a letter Monday to the All Crimes Enforcement Team executive board and area law enforcement agencies, Wiggins praised ACET and the other agencies for safely dismantling "an extremely dangerous public safety hazard."
"The investigation was a huge success where a legitimate meth lab was seized and removed from one of our communities," Wiggins wrote in the letter, a copy of which he sent to the Steamboat Today.
However, law enforcement officials refused to release any other information about the raid.
ACET, with assistance from agencies including the Sheriff's Office and Hayden Police Department, served a search warrant at 340 E. Jefferson Ave. on Saturday morning. According to the Routt County Dispatch call log, several agencies arrived at the address at 9:22 a.m., and some remained there until after 8 p.m.
Hayden Police Chief Gordon Booco said U.S. Highway 40, which is Jefferson Avenue in Hayden, was closed for 14 hours Saturday along the one-block stretch from Pine to Aspen streets. He said eastbound and westbound traffic was diverted to Washington Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, respectively.
ACET Commander Marvin Cameron confirmed that 340 E. Jefferson Ave. was the home that was raided. According to the Routt County Assessor's Office database, the home belongs to Hayden resident Ron Nereson. Nereson was out of town Monday and couldn't be reached for comment. But investigators were clear that Nereson is considered a victim, not a suspect.
Cameron said at no time did investigators ever think Nereson had any idea what was taking place in the home, which appears to have been rented.
"We have no reason to believe that the homeowner had anything to do with this or knew what was going on," Cameron said. "He's a victim in this."
Cameron said no arrests had been made as of Monday evening. Wiggins told county commissioners that the suspect is a previous offender in Routt County who on more than one occasion was arrested on suspicion of meth-related charges. Officials would not release the suspect's name.
Hayden resident Robert Bennett, who lives at 398 E. Jefferson Ave., said he watched the raid at the home next door to his.
Bennett said he thought the tenants at the home had lived there five or six months. Bennett said he met them only once.
"I don't really pay that much attention," he said. "They were just there coming and going all the time, that's all I ever noticed."
The Routt County Office of Emergency Management, 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office, West Routt Fire Protection District, Colorado State Patrol Hazardous Materials Team and the Moffat County Hazardous Materials Team also assisted ACET during the raid.
Cameron said ACET would continue working with the other agencies in the investigation.