Gun bust leads police to Hazelwood meth lab

Take a look, and you’ll see a meth lab cleanup underway. Find out what neighbors had to see about the house in this well-established outer East Portland neighborhood …

Behind this door, police say, they discovered a lab for cooking up meth.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
They were looking for illegal guns – but after the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team rolled in a “flash-bang” device, to startle the occupants of this Hazelwood house the morning of April 19, they found a home-brew methamphetamine (meth) lab.

“I didn’t hear anything, but a neighbor said there was a big explosion. Evidently the police broke open the door,” said a neighbor who asked not to be identified.

“After two years of growing pot in the house and the shed – they had a medical marijuana card – and those renters were moved. I thought things would quiet down. This took me by surprise; they’ve only been here a couple of months.”

Dressed in “bunny suits”, workers from an environmental hazard cleanup company continue their efforts to scour out a meth lab discovered in a Hazelwood home.

Another neighbor said, as he stopped his morning walk to look at the activity in progress, “It seems there’s always something going on at that house. Otherwise, it’s a quiet neighborhood.”

Yet another neighbor said that, even though the owner of the house is believed to live not far away in East Multnomah County, the renters chosen by the landlord usually seem to be “sketchy folks”.

Hazardous waste cleanup experts lay out contaminated materials before bagging them, and then sealing the items in a 55-gallon drum.

In fact, City records show the house has been the subject of “nuisance” complaints in both 2008 and 2008, and a City Code violation in 2009 – all of them long-closed.

“Five people have been detained at this point, as officers from the Drugs and Vice Division begin processing the lab and collecting evidence,” reported Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Lt. Kelli Sheffer that morning. “The search warrant is related to a Gun Task Force investigation. Additional details will be released as they become available.”

Here’s a sampling of the chemicals and glassware discovered in the house, which police say are the components of a meth lab.


Officials say (left) Robert Dudley Tatsch and Harvey T. Robertson were arrested as part of a weapons investigation by the Gun Task Force. Tatsch remains in custody, Robertson was booked and released. MCDC photos

After this story was published, Sgt. Pete Simpson stated that 52-year-old Robert Dudley Tatsch was charged with drug and weapons crimes.

MCDC records show Tatsch is charged with Delivery of Heroin, Delivery of Meth, three counts of Felon in Possession of Firearm, Frequenting a Place where Controlled Substances are used, Possession of Heroin, Possession of Meth and unlawful Manufacture of Meth and is still in custody at the Justice Center with combined bail at about $200,000.

“41-year-old Harvey T. Robertson was charged with forgery and drug charges in conjunction with this search,” Simpson added. “He was booked and later released.” MCDC records show he was released on bail on April 24.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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