State narcotics officers evacuated several homes and cordoned off a block near downtown Coeur d’Alene Thursday after investigators found what they believe to be an illegal drug lab in a house just four blocks from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.
Tammy Knight, 29, was arrested on a charge of felony drug possession after officers found suspected methamphetamine in her home at 1015 Mullan Avenue.
At least half a dozen state investigators and hazardous materials workers, dressed in sealed suits, wearing gas masks and some breathing from oxygen tanks, spent Thursday collecting evidence from the home.
Some of the chemicals used to make methamphetamine can be toxic and, at times, highly combustible.
“I just hope it doesn’t blow now,” said Robert Erickson, a neighbor living across the street. “I’m right in the line of fire.”
As it turned out, “We suspect we have an inactive meth lab,” said an undercover narcotics agent who asked that his name not be used.
A neighbor called police to complain about noise at Knight’s house about 4:15 a.m. Thursday. When officers arrived, they saw Knight and a male visitor running around inside the house with guns in their hands, said Capt. Carl Bergh.
When the duo noticed the officers, they put their guns down, Bergh said. The officers asked and received permission to go inside.
The woman told police that she and the man armed themselves because they were afraid of people trying to break in. Although investigators were unsure whether she was under the influence of drugs, they said paranoia is a side effect of methamphetamine, a stimulant.
Officers asked to check the house and make sure no one else was running around with a gun, said Capt. Bergh. While inside, police noticed possible drugs and items often used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, he said.
Narcotics officers with the Idaho State Criminal Investigation Bureau were called out along with the state hazardous materials response unit and Coeur d’Alene Fire Department.
Mullan Avenue from 10th to 11th was closed. Several houses surrounding Knight’s were evacuated.
Dressed in bulky white space-like suits, investigators spent hours carrying out numerous glass containers filled with clear, pink and sometimes milky liquids.
“Everybody knew something was going on over there,” said Bob Ligeza, a neighbor. “There were too many people coming and going.”
Neighbors said cars often would arrive at the home during odd hours, many times with out-of-state license plates.
Knight has not been charged with manufacturing drugs. Methamphetamine is created from a combination of chemicals. The narcotics agent said the chemicals found in Knight’s home would be tested to determine what they are.
However, the agent said the combination of glassware, scales, apparent chemicals and suspected drugs found in the home lead him to believe a lab had been operating there.
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