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Saturday, November 17 , 2018, 5:04 pm | Fair with Haze 64º


Santa Barbara Man Arrested For Allegedly Operating Drug Lab

A Santa Barbara man was arrested for allegedly operating a drug lab after being injured Wednesday in an explosion involving chemicals used in drug extraction, police said.

Justin Smith, 25, was arrested Wednesday night after authorities discovered chemicals used for mescaline extraction at his residence on the 1900 block of San Andres Street, Santa Barbara police Sgt. Todd Johnson said.

Mescaline, sourced from cacti, is a hallucinogenic drug similar to peyote, Johnson said.

It’s a Schedule 1 controlled substance and chemicals are used to extract the drug component, police said.  

“When we got in there, it looked like he was definitely doing mescaline extraction, and there were precursors that can be used for MDMA,” Johnson said.

The response was initiated when Smith called 9-1-1 to report hand injuries, which included chemical burns and a laceration, police said.

“It turns out the injuries were as a result of some level of explosion when this guy was in there doing whatever he was doing,” Johnson said.

Santa Barbara police, the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s SBRCAT Department of Justice task force, a DOJ hazardous materials crew and fire engines responded to the scene.

A house was evacuated on either side of Smith’s residence, and some nearby residents sheltered in place due to concerns about fire or an explosion.

“These things are so poorly done and unstable,” Johnson said of drug extractions.

DOJ lab personnel worked until about 4 a.m. processing the scene, taking samples and photographs for evidence.

Smith was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on felony charges of chemically processing a controlled substance.

Police narcotics detectives are investigating the case jointly with the SBRCAT task force, Johnson said.

Residents of nearby homes were cooperative during questioning, and investigators believe Smith is the “primary guy” associated with the drug chemicals, Johnson said.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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