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Meth lab shut down
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Agents from the Stanislaus County Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force discovered a drug lab Monday evening in a Kay Street home with an 18-month-old child living inside.

Agents received a tip about the possible methamphetamine drug lab in the 2600 block of Kay Street in Ceres late last week. While investigating the case, agents contacted the residents and could smell the odor of chemicals similar to a methamphetamine drug lab. Agents also noticed a small child inside the home. The two occupants of the home were detained and a search warrant was obtained to search the home.

Inside the home, agents found chemicals and appliances that are used in manufacturing methamphetamine. Agents said that this was a "box lab" meaning that chemicals and appliances were being stored. Agents also found evidence that subject had been previously manufacturing methamphetamine within the garage. The chemicals used in this process are highly volatile and this process was taking place next to the hot water heater and washer-drier unit. Agents have investigated drug lab fires where the cause of the explosion was the result of similar conditions.

Because of the large quantity of chemicals and the sizes of the appliances, drug agents labeled the Kay Street operation as a "super meth lab." They say it was capable of producing up to 10 to 12 pounds of crystal methamphetamine valued over $200,000.

Agents arrested Francisco Javier Soto-Cuevas, 22, and Alondra Fernandez, 20. The 18-month-old child, who proved to be Fernandez's nephew, was taken to a local hospital to be checked for exposure to chemicals and was medically cleared. He was later released into the custody of Child Protective Services. CPS was attempting to contact the child's mother who worked in the Bay area.

Both Soto-Cuevas and Fernandez appear to be illegal aliens and were placed on a no-bail immigration hold. They have been charged with child endangerment, and felony possession, manufacturing and sale of methamphetamine.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Agent Bruley at 558-6300.