Nov 302012

A Tulane University student faces a charge of operating a clandestine meth laboratory that carries with it a mandatory sentence of between five and 15 years in prison, authorities said.

Firefighters were called to a fire in the 3200 block of Carondelet on Nov. 19, but when they arrived, began to suspect that “something was wrong,” said NOPD Sixth District task force Sgt. Gary Calico during Wednesday’s meeting of the district’s ranking officers.

When police arrived, they discovered what is known as a “one-pot” methamphetamine laboratory, which Calico said is the most volatile way of producing the drug. The method, Calico said, involves combining elements from iridium batteries, pseudoephedrine pills and other household items in a single container, but its byproducts are extremely flammable.

Lamar Mixson, 24, was charged with operating a clandestine drug lab, which carries a mandatory sentence of between five and 15 years in prison. Mixson is listed as a senior studying environmental science in the Tulane University phone book, and while university officials confirmed that he is an undergraduate and that they are aware of the charges, they said that describing any disciplinary procedures Mixson may face would violate federal privacy laws.

Mixson’s bond was set at $5,000, and he not currently in the Orleans Parish jail.

In years past, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency would assist with cleaning up meth labs, Calico said, but money from that program is gone and the Carondelet property owner had to pay several thousands of dollars to do it himself. The property owner then had to hire an air-quality manager to ensure that all the fumes had been dispersed, but officials have since given the site an all-clear, Calico said.

“A tremendous amount goes into these meth-lab cases,” Calico said, noting that this is believed to be the first case in the city handled by local authorities, rather than the DEA.

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