EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 27, 2013

Police: Rowley drug lab was making ketamine

By Dave Rogers
Staff writer

---- — ROWLEY — Police announced yesterday they know who rented a storage unit that they believe was converted into a working drug conversion lab but are keeping the person’s identity secret as they negotiate his surrender to authorities.

Scores of police officers, firefighters and emergency response units from across the state converged upon ABZ Self Storage on Route 133, only a few yards away from Interstate 95, Monday around 11 a.m. A hazmat team wearing white suits and oxygen masks entered the storage unit and removed two cylinders, a microwave oven and chemicals found on the ground. It was later determined that the chemicals were part of a ketamine conversion lab.

Rowley Detective Lt. Joseph Gamache said the suspect’s attorney contacted police after a warrant for his arrest was issued and told authorities his client could turn himself in as soon as today. Meanwhile, Rowley police yesterday obtained a warrant to search a Georgetown address where the suspect had been staying, according to Gamache.

Ketamine, sometimes called “Special K,” produces a powerful but short-lived hallucinogenic effect that has made it a popular among club-goers and those attending rave parties. It can be snorted, smoked or injected. When used for its intended purpose, ketamine is an anesthetic used on humans and animals.

Monday’s seizure came after police received complaints of suspicious activity and a strong odor around the unit. An initial investigation by Rowely police led to authorities’ obtaining a warrant to search the storage unit. With that information, police organized assets from several nearby communities, state police and the Drug Enforcement Agency before descending upon the storage unit around 11 a.m.

By 1:30 p.m. the items had been removed from the storage unit and crews went on standby as they waited for a Department of Environmental Protection team.

Around 2 p.m. a DEP crew arrived and transported the items to the state’s chemist office for analysis.

ABZ Self Storage opened in 2007. The complex has dozens of self-storage bays located within metal buildings, each unit with its own metal door. According to the company 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.

Throughout much of Monday afternoon, emergency response trucks from the state Department of Fire Services Special Operations and multiple bomb squad vehicles from across the region converged upon the site as officials prepared for the possibility that explosives were also present. No bombs were found. Traffic in both directions was halted on several occasion by a Rowley police officer armed, at one point, with an assault rifle.

By yesterday morning there was little evidence that the storage rental facility had been the epicenter of a massive law enforcement operation. A manager was seen vacuuming the office floor and the unit in question was devoid of police tape or any visible sign that it had been searched.