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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Suspicious lab closes part of Farrington Highway

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Honolulu police narcotics officers were called to investigate a suspicious lab found along an isolated stretch of beach in Nanakuli early today.

An officer at the Wai'anae sub-station said a 911 caller at 1:56 a.m. thought someone was making crystal methamphetamine, or ice, on the beach. The caller could smell something unusual coming from the area.

The lab was in a tent not easily seen from the intersection of Farrington Highway and Mohihi Street.

A portion of the beach-side lane of Farrington Highway was closed as a precaution until about 7 a.m., backing up commuters as far as Ma'ili, police said.

Lt. Michael Fujioka, head of the police department's Clandestine Drug Lab Response Team, said officers suspect crystal methamphetime because they found crystals and an unknown liquid, but field tests were not conclusive. Further tests will be done at the police station.

No one was at the beach when police arrived, but a 31-year-old Nanakuli man was questioned when he arrived at the tent.

"It's a possbile clandestine lab," Fujioka said. "We still have to do a lab analysis on what this person was making. He had some stuff that leads us to suspect a lab. He had iodine, a single burner and he had some glassware. There was a container with some crystal-like substance on it."

Firefighters with the city's two hazardous materials units were called to decontaminate police officers after they had left the lab, said fire department spokesman Capt. Richard Soo. An engine and a tanker from the Nanakuli Fire Station also were called to assist, he said.

"All that stuff they touch could be toxic, and needs to be disposed of properly once it is identified," Soo said. "You don't want them to go home and cross-contaminate someone."