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Ripon Police discover meth lab in farmhouse, barn
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Ripon Police Sergeant Steve Merchant pats down meth lab suspect Larry A. Dargitz at a farm just north of the Mistlin Sports Park on Clinton South Avenue. Manteca police detective and meth lab expert Marnix Lub, right, was called in with other detectives Sgt. Danny Erb and Paul Carmona. - photo by GLENN KAHL
A Tuesday morning parole search at a farm in Ripon turned up a boxed methamphetamine lab, according to Police Sergeant Steve Merchant.

Ripon Police officers arrested parolee Larry A. Dargitz, 49, after searching a farmhouse, barn and outbuildings in the 1400 block of Clinton South Avenue located directly north of the Mistlin Sports Park on the north side of the Ripon community.

Merchant said the suspect had been involved with another meth lab some five years ago.  “There was positive evidence of a methamphetamine cook out here,” he added.

Ripon called the Manteca Police Street Crimes Unit to assist them in determining the scope of the chemicals they located on the premises.  Sgt. Merchant voiced his appreciation for the technical assistance the Manteca Street Crime Unit officers – under the direction of Sgt. Danny Erb.  The Manteca officers were called out because of their history and experience in meth lab investigations.

The San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services task force responded to the scene Tuesday afternoon – donned in white protective suits – and documented the extent of the find.  A second chemical team was dispatched from Sacramento to clean up the toxic materials that were uncovered, Merchant said.

Officers stretched yellow crime scene tape around the perimeter of the house from the street and to the barn area to protect the crime scene.   Methamphetamine producing chemicals were reportedly located in all the structures on the property.

Merchant said that he expected his officers were going to be on the scene most of the night.  He said it appeared by the nature of the evidence that the suspect was possibly in the process of restarting an older meth lab at the Clinton South location – a quiet pastoral location midway between Jack Tone and North Ripon roads.