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Narc agents bust meth lab

A narcotics agent checks chemicals found at a residence on Mellow Pines Drive off Wildwood West Drive in the Penn Valley area Monday.
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Snow-covered mountains and much of Lake Wildwood are visible from Mellow Pines Drive west of Penn Valley.

On Tuesday, after an 18-month investigation, narcotics agents got a closeup view of where the gravel road ends. About 50 local and state officers raided a suspected methamphetamine manufacturing lab, where a man and woman were arrested at their home and a toddler was placed with Child Protective Services.

“This wasn’t a coffee pot and paper filter thing,” state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement special agent Jeff Cameron said, referring to the smaller meth-making operations typical of the area.



Instead, agents reported finding large chemistry glassware and meth ingredients such as red phosphorous, Red Devil lye and iodine. Two gallons of meth solution were found, as was three to four ounces of the finished product. Twenty-eight guns, including a stolen handgun, also turned up.

A hazardous waste contracter was called in for the cleanup, which is expected to cost $6,000 to $10,000.




John Lee Aldritt, 51, was booked on $1 million bail into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on suspicion of manufacturing meth, intent to manufacture meth and firearms allegations.

Lisa D. Knutsen, 27, was booked on $50,000 bail on suspicion of the same drug charges along with providing a place for manufacturing and child endangerment.

Aldritt received a steeper bail at the request of the state Department of Justice.

Knowing guns were on the property, dozens of officers – including agents from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Detail, converged on the house at 9:30 a.m., where Aldritt was awakened and taken into custody without resistance.

Agents from Nevada, Yuba and Sutter counties, and the Placer County Special Investigations Unit also joined.

The Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agents then worked most of the day combing the property, which included a metal barn, sheds, several vehicles and campers and boats.

BNE headed the investigation after receiving a tip about 18 months ago.

“It takes a long time to build probable cause, to build a case up,” Cameron said as he stood next to an aerial photo of the property, which is near Pleasant Valley Road and Wildwood West Drive.

He called Tuesday’s alleged drug operation similar to the work of Mexican nationals but found no evidence of a connection.

On Mellow Pines Drive, Cameron said glassware on the property could produce 20 pounds of meth at a time. The two gallons of suspected meth solution, he said, indicated “these guys are in a cook, is what they are.”


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