Sheriff Office’s raid busts Creston home-based meth lab

Even though local meth labs are nearly a thing of the past – when you learn where this lab was located, you’ll be glad this ex-con is behind bars …

Behind these trees is the home where the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit deputies say they found pounds of expensive chemicals used specifically for making methamphetamine.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Because of legislation making pseudoephedrine-containing medications available only by prescription – and the steady flow of illicit drugs coming up from our southern border – home-based methamphetamine (meth) manufacturing labs around Portland are pretty much a thing of the past.

But, not entirely. Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Special Investigations Unit (SIU) deputies reported they seized the chemicals needed to run a large-scale meth lab in S.E. Portland just after noon on November 29.

The alleged drug lab, located in a home at 3622 SE 49th Ave., was a half-block east of Creston Elementary School. As we walked down the street near the house, we could clearly hear the laughter of children playing during recess.

To learn more about the bust, we spoke with the MCSO spokesman, Lt. Jason Gates. “We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in meth labs. In the past, we closed down as many as 40 a year; this is only the third lab we’ve uncovered this year. But, any lab – especially this close to a school – is a danger to the community.”

Suspected of running drug lab
Gates says the SIU had been conducting an ongoing, covert investigation regarding 55-year-old Ted Wayne Berardinelli, who they said has a history of being involved in clandestine drug labs.

“They applied for and were granted a search warrant,” continued Gates. “When they executed the search warrant, they discovered specific chemicals used for making meth. The lab wasn’t set up and operating, but they found finished methamphetamine.”

Signs posted on this house make it clear that this house contained the hazardous chemicals officers say are used to cook up batches of meth. The day after the raid, when these photos were taken, it appears as if someone tried to remove the stickers.

Pounds of illicit chemicals found
In addition to the street-ready meth, deputies also found a large quantity of chemicals that are typically used to manufacture meth, Gates said.

Specifically, deputies said they discovered 35 lbs. of elemental iodine and 6 lbs. of red phosphorous.

“The average citizen wouldn’t have a use for these chemicals at home – they are not cleaning or hobby materials,” Gates explained. “And, they’re expensive. Elemental iodine goes for $300 to $600 per pound on the black market. Red phosphorous sells for up to $600 per pound.”

The Multnomah County Drug Lab Response Team was called in to mitigate the hazards associated with the lab, and process the lab evidence for prosecution.

Sheriff’s deputies took 55-year-old Ted Wayne Berardinelli into custody. He now has five charges against him.

Ex-con with guns – and silencers
In addition to the meth and chemicals, deputies also reported finding a .38 caliber pistol, .22 caliber rifle with silencer, and a .22 caliber pistol with a silencer.

“It is illegal for an ex-con to have a weapon,” Gates commented. “And, gun silencers are illegal for anyone to possess.”

Berardinelli has been lodged in the Multnomah County Detention Center on the following charges:

  • Manufacturing a controlled  substance (meth) within 1000 feet of a school;
  • Distribution of a controlled substance (meth) within 1000 feet of a school;
  • Possession of a controlled substance (meth);
  • Three counts of ex-con in possession of a firearm; and
  • Two counts of unlawful possession of silencers.

“This event demonstrates that some meth labs still do exist in the community,” Gates concluded. “Citizens still should be diligent, and report behavior they suspect is associated with this activity.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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