A 93-year-old Acton man was arrested Sunday morning on suspicion of manufacturing the illegal drug PCP after an all-night standoff that ended when sheriff's deputies fired tear gas into his home.
Walter Todd was charged with operating a PCP laboratory and held in lieu of $75,000 bail, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies said. Todd was not hurt but, because of his age, he was being held in the jail ward at County-USC Medical Center.
Narcotics investigators said that, although Todd lived alone, they believe that other individuals and other homes in the Acton area of the Antelope Valley were involved in the alleged drug manufacturing operation.
Deputies were sent to Todd's home on 10 acres in the 8800 block of Hierba Street in a rural area near Sierra Highway about 8:30 p.m. Saturday after neighbors complained of a strong smell of ether coming from the house, a sheriff's spokesman said.
The department's Special Weapons Team was summoned because the small home appeared to be heavily fortified, with barred windows, said Sgt. John Andrews.
"They could tell someone was in the house because they heard him moving around," Andrews said. Several attempts to reach the man by phone and over a public address system during the night were unsuccessful, Andrews said.
About 6 a.m. Sunday, deputies fired tear gas. After 25 minutes, Todd answered his phone and deputies persuaded him to surrender, Andrews said.
Deputies recovered a five-gallon can of ether in the home and residue of other hazardous materials used in the manufacturing of PCP that had been dumped outside the house, Andrews said. No weapons or other drug lab materials were found on the premises.
Investigators speculated that the remote location was being used for one part of the drug manufacturing process because it was easier to dump waste products there.