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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Charges Filed Against Trio in Drug Lab Case : Antelope Valley: Authorities say remote Llano home was used to manufacture methamphetamine.


LANCASTER — Two men and a woman suspected of running a methamphetamine lab in a remote desert house east of Palmdale were charged Wednesday with drug and firearms offenses.

The moderate-sized lab, raided by narcotics agents two days before the arrests, was allegedly capable of manufacturing two to five pounds of the drug during each 48-hour session, according to authorities. That amount of the drug could be sold for up to $250,000 on the street, narcotics investigators said.

San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies sought Monday to arrest William Ziepke, 34, on a $1-million warrant in connection with a methamphetamine lab case in that county. The deputies went to a house in the 25800 block of East Avenue U in the small desert community of Llano, where Ziepke was believed to be living.

When the deputies arrived, they detected an odor associated with drug labs and noticed glassware commonly used in such operations, said Gary Brody, a Los Angeles County sheriff's narcotics investigator.

"They went there to arrest him for their case and stumbled onto this lab," Brody said.

Because the house was in Los Angeles County, the San Bernardino deputies summoned a narcotics team and hazardous materials technicians from Palmdale, who entered a washroom area that had been converted into a lab, Brody said.

Deputies seized several ounces of material they believe to be methamphetamine, plus an assault rifle and a semi-automatic handgun.

Ziepke was arrested by the San Bernardino deputies. Los Angeles County investigators arrested another man living at the house, Dwayne Calkins, 28. After further investigation, Los Angeles County authorities also arrested Calkins' wife, Deborah Calkins, 26.

A deputy district attorney in Lancaster on Wednesday charged the three residents with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of the materials used to make the drug, possession of methamphetamine for sale and possession of loaded firearms when illegal drugs are present.

Bail for each of the three suspects was set at $150,000, but deputies said Ziepke must face charges in San Bernardino County prior to the Los Angeles County case.

Deputy Mick Kelleher, a narcotics investigator in Palmdale, said methamphetamine labs are often found in the Antelope Valley because it has many remote locations where the drug can be manufactured without being detected by neighbors.

The Llano lab was inside a two-bedroom house with no other dwellings nearby, Kelleher said. "There's no street signs, no landmarks out there," he said.

The investigator said other arrests may occur soon, stemming from the raid on the lab. "We believe there's other money behind it, and other dealers working with them," Kelleher said. "We believe these people weren't working alone."

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