Colo. police bring down 'huge' drug lab

By Bill Scanlon
The Rocky Mountain News
BOULDER, Colo. Officers hit pay dirt when they raided a suspected Ecstasy lab in a home here Tuesday.

They found enough chemicals to make 50,000 to 80,000 tabs of Ecstasy with a street value of up to $3.2 million, said John Cohen, special agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

In the four years prior, officials in the area had seized about 2,500 tabs from wholesalers and dealers.

"This is huge," said Steve Prentup, head of the Boulder County Drug Task Force.

"We knocked on the door at 6:30 in the morning ... we have two people in custody," Prentup said as officers in hazmat suits hauled glassware and chemicals from the home.

In Boulder County Jail are the owner of the home at 720 S. 46th St., Debra Cerio, 41, and Carl Dubois, 29. They were held on suspicion of manufacturing illegal drugs.

The manufacture of Ecstasy, a "club drug," isn't as dangerous as methamphetamine. Ecstasy ingredients include more natural ingredients, such as sassafras oil, while methamphetamine uses such ingredients as battery acid, drain cleaner and antifreeze.

Still, anytime chemicals are catalyzed, there is a danger toxins can get on the skin or enter the lungs, Prentup said.

So task force members, with breathing devices taped to their hazmat suits, stayed inside the house for 20 minutes at a time. After leaving the house and depositing contents in safe containers, members were scrubbed, brushed and otherwise cleaned in portable showers.

Neighbors said the raid came as a surprise. Owners of a nearby home had been busted three or four years ago for selling heroin, but things had been quiet since.

Prentup said the war against illegal drug manufacturers and dealers will continue. "There are many labs we will never find, others that we will," Prentup said. 
Staff writer Rosa Ramirez contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 Denver Publishing Company

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