MADERA COUNTY –When agents raided a house on Road 29 near Madera on Thursday, they found a methamphetamine conversion lab inside, along with a six-year-old boy.
Hector Mendoza Medina, 30, aka Javier Mendoza Medina, was taken into custody shortly before noon on Feb. 7, when Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET) agents, following a tip phoned into the MADNET hotline, caught Medina converting meth into crystal meth inside his kitchen, according to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.The drugs siezed were valued at nearly a thousand dollars, plus roughly $200 worth of cocaine, and close to a thousand dollars in cash. Before leaving, agents also seized Medina’s BMW 745 parked out front.
Medina’s six-year old son, who was inside the home when agents arrived, reportedly lives in San Jose with his mother.
The child was turned over to relatives, but Child Protective Services has been advised of what agents discovered at the property.
According to records, Medina moved into the rental in October 2012. Since then, agents believe he was using the house as his personal drug lab — converting meth into crystal meth, and trafficking the dangerous drug elsewhere in the state.
Cans of acetone and other precursor chemicals were found in the garage, stacked near a tricycle.
Agents say these types of labs are as dangerous as “cooks,” because the solvents released during the conversion are highly flammable, and the toxic fumes don’t dissipate, they get absorbed into the walls and carpets, contaminating the entire home.
Had the suspect lit a match or turned on the stove during the conversion process, he could have easily caused an explosion.
The Fresno Meth Task Force (FMTF) and Environmental Health were called in to remove the chemicals, equipment and anything else may have been contaminated.
The owner of the property was advised that she is responsible for any costs incurred during additional clean-up, and the fact that the home was used as a meth lab will be permanently placed on her mortgage record.
Sheriff John Anderson says this is the second portable lab discovered in Madera County in the last two weeks. MADNET agents say meth labs are on the rise and the manufacturers are once again setting their sites on Madera.
More than a decade ago, Madera County gained a reputation as being the meth capitol of California. Sheriff Anderson asked the Department of Justice for help, and credits agencies like MADNET, the Fresno Meth Task Force (FMTF) and HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area), with helping to push meth manufacturers out of the county.
But based purely on geography, Anderson says it’s making a comeback – specifically in the form of portable conversion labs – and that Madera County is on the verge of once again becoming the main hub for drug trafficking organizations.
“These drugs account for the majority of robberies, home invasions, shootings, carjackings and burglaries throughout our valley,” says the Sheriff. “Madera County doesn’t have a crime problem per se, we have a serious drug problem.”
Medina was booked into Madera County Department of Corrections. He remains held on an immigration hold, facing felony drug charges and child endangerment.
This case remains under investigation. Anyone who may information about this lab or any illegal drug activity in Madera County can call MADNET’s 24-hour tip line: 559-675-7776.