Back in late June, hazmat crews, firefighters and police officers were combing through a self storage unit in Rowley which contained a substantial working drug lab inside. The storage facility was located on a busy road and just a few dozen yards away from a major Interstate.
Bystanders reported witnessing cylinders, possibly containing drugs, a microwave and chemicals being removed from the storage unit. In addition to local police officers there were several other local law enforcement departments, firefighters and hazmat crews in case the newly found lab got out of hand.
Police were performing a routine check of the area when an officer noticed a suspicious odor emanating from one of the storage units. Police were informed the day prior by the self storage manager that there was possible drug activity going on in the storage unit and local police then moved in and found drug conversion products on the floor and cylinders filled with an unknown substance. In addition, police found ledgers with lists of sales and debts owed, two fake ID’s, a forged cable bill and an Am Ex card. Throughout the day other emergency response personnel and hazardous material teams also converged on the site as officials prepared for the possibility of explosives.
John Dupray from the Rowley Fire Department said, “The bottom line is they don’t know what’s behind the door,” although no bombs were found. Other firefighters on the scene were overheard saying the storage unit was a converted Meth lab. According to MethProject, Meth is a synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system and is one of the most addictive substances to use. The process to create the drug is relatively simple although very dangerous and flammable. The production and distribution of meth has received a boost in recent years thanks in part to the TV show ‘Breaking Bad’.
The cylinders and other items have been transported to the state’s chemist office for analysis, though they are nearly certain it is meth. No arrests have been made yet a suspect is in custody. According to the ABZ Self Storage website, the entire complex is surrounded by a high metal fence, topped by barbed wire, and cameras record the comings and goings 24 hours a day.
Rowley police are also focusing on an undisclosed but related property in nearby Georgetown. Police are slowly releasing additional information in this real life ‘Breaking Bad’ episode. They have identified the owner of the storage unit as 24 year old Tim Vonallgeier. A warrant was issued for his arrest and then he decided to turn himself in. He is now accused of operating a ketamine conversion lab inside the self storage unit. Investigators believe the lab was only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger ketamine distribution facility which saw Mr. Vonallgeier ship the drug to customers as far away as Hawaii and California.
The Judge in the case order Vonallgeier held on $10,000 cash bail, to surrender his passport, stay within Massachusetts, remain drug and alcohol free and be monitored with a GPS tracking system. Vonallgeier is not unknown in the Massachusetts police community as he was previously arrested for possession of marijuana, intent to distribute and having a controlled substance in a school zone. It was recently released that he was allegedly producing and distributing ketamine, or Special K, and not meth. Special K produces a powerful, yet short lived, hallucinogenic effect on people but is intended as an anesthetic on humans and animals.
A great deal of praise should go to the self storage manager and owner in this instance as the manager saw suspicious activity and reported it immediately. More and more over the past few years storage facilities have been the target of these drug making operations. A storage unit is an ideal place for illegal drug makers because the units are typically isolated, private and open 24 hours. Storage owners have to be on constant alert in order to catch any curious activity at their facilities. The last thing an owner wants is to have unwanted negative attention brought to them for something like drugs or a death in a storage unit.
What do you think? How do you combat these issues at your self storage facility?
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