Wednesday afternoon, multiple law enforcement agencies arrived at a home on the 1900 block of San Andres Street on Santa Barbara’s Westside after city firefighters responded to a call about a man suffering chemical burns and hand lacerations. Police believe the home was being used as a drug lab to make MDMA and, possibly, to extract mescaline from Peyote cactus.
“The story didn’t check out,” said Santa Barbara City Police Sergeant Todd Johnson, who was one of the first police responders to arrive on scene. One man had called 9-1-1 on behalf of his injured friend, 25-year-old Justin Smith. At first, Johnson thought Smith and the caller were involved in the at-home manufacturing of “honey oil,” the dangerous process of extracting THC from marijuana via butane to make hash oil. But when authorities obtained a search warrant, they discovered “lots” of drug paraphernalia, according to Johnson, which led them to believe the home was being used to produce the synthetic drug ecstasy and to extract the hallucinogen mescaline from Peyote cactus.
City fire’s hazardous materials team and the Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit — accompanied by the Sheriff’s multi-agency task force SBRCAT (Santa Barbara Regional Criminal Apprehension Team) — arrived on scene. Johnson said the “white-suited” SBRCAT investigators called for backup from their Los Angeles lab location. Authorities remained on scene until about 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Smith was arrested and booked into County Jail on one felony count of running a drug lab. Johnson said the investigation remains ongoing.