Arizona multi-agency task force discover meth lab in firefighter residence
SELLS, Ariz. – A Tohono O’odham Nation member and active firefighter was one of two people arrested Monday for operating a methamphetamine lab at a mobile-home located in the remote area of the Village of Santa Rosa following a probe by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and federal officers with the Native American Targeted Investigations of Violent Enterprises (NATIVE) Taskforce.
Stephen Folson, 36, and Desiree Saraficio, 29, admitted to conspiring to possess and manufacture methamphetamine after federal agents searched their home.
According to HSI special agents, the investigation was initiated upon receiving an investigative referral from United States Border Patrol Intelligence agents. NATIVE agents then began working on identifying leads that subsequently pointed to suspicious overseas purchases and shipments spanning several months.
According to the complaint, agents on Monday encountered Folson and his two teenage sons at his residence. There they identified a meth lab in use and discovered a substantial amount of methamphetamine manufacturing equipment and precursor products to include glassware, extra strength allergy medicine, ventilation systems, filtration systems, soda bottles, Acetone containers, various torches, charcoal lighter fluid, glass pipes and other items. Due to the high toxicity levels, the DEA hazardous materials team responded and discovered additional unknown chemicals inside various pieces of glassware. The entire residence was decontaminated to prevent further exposure to officers and the neighborhood.
Upon his arrest, Folson admitted he has been a methamphetamine user for approximately 9-10 years and has been cooking the narcotic for about 3 years. He further detailed how he sources his ingredients from China and Canada by ordering them online and paying for them with his debit card. He also purchases from eBay Canada to circumvent the state/federal regulations.
Folson confessed that he knows the process of cooking meth is dangerous and toxic but needs it to function. He also advised he smoked more and more meth, to where now he must “smoke at least once an hour to stay awake.”
This is an HSI-led investigation conducted in partnership with the NATIVE task force. The NATIVE HIDTA initiative formed in August 2013 is charged to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating within or through the Tohono O'odham Nation. The NATIVE task force is led by the Tohono O'odham Police Department (TOPD) and composed of special agents with HSI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement and Security, Bureau of Indian Affairs Drug Enforcement Division, U.S. Border Patrol and Arizona HIDTA.
The defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The United States Attorney’s Office in Tucson, Arizona, accepted prosecution of the individuals for violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846.