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Meth lab found in Bell home belonging to mayor

June 6, 2009 |  4:44 pm

Authorities discovered a methamphetamine lab at a Bell home owned by the city’s mayor early today and arrested two men, officials said.

Narcotics investigators raided a home in the 3800 block of Bell Avenue about 1:30 a.m. and found a “super lab,” capable of producing 20 pounds of methamphetamine at one time, said Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The investigators were part of a multi-agency state task force.

Saldana said two men were taken into custody, and two young children, ages 2 and 3, were placed in protective care. The suspects’ identities were not immediately available.

The home, one of three units on the lot, is owned by Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, who said in a phone interview that it was one of several properties he owns and that he rented it out to a young couple in their 20s. He said the husband was one of the men arrested. Hernandez said that although his son and daughter live in one of the units, his family knew nothing about the lab and had nothing to do with it.

“Nobody smelled nothing. I never got any complaints, and it’s a small community and the houses are close to each other,” said Hernandez, who runs a corner grocery store down the street and has been the city’s mayor since March.

Barrels of chemicals were carted out of the house by a haz-mat unit, Saldana said. Hernandez said the home was still cordoned off by yellow police tape this afternoon.

“These things happen around the town. It’s nothing new,” the mayor said. “They happen all over – they happen here, in Glendale, in L.A.,  in West Hollywood.”

--Victoria Kim