Pulling pills

Portland Police have released new information concerning a suspected drug lab in the Goose Hollow Plaza.

The Vanguard reported Nov. 18 that authorities had closed off apartment 107 in the building, located at 1604 S.W. Clay St., and declared the apartment an "illegal drug lab." The building is owned and operated by College Housing Northwest, a local non-profit contracted with Portland State to provide housing to students.

Police said Monday that they arrested William Jonathan Strauss, a 20-year-old PSU student, Nov. 16 after a parole officer discovered evidence of the beginning stages of methamphetamine production in the apartment.

Strauss was charged with manufacturing a schedule two controlled substance. He is currently detained in the Multnomah County Detention Center, according to the county Sheriff’s Office. Although a county judge dismissed the drug charge, Strauss is currently awaiting transport to Polk County for a parole violation charge.

According to police, evidence was discovered in the apartment of "pill-pulling" a process of separating ephedrine, a common active ingredient in cold medicine, from the binding agents in pills. The pure ephedrine is later used as one of the main ingredients in manufacturing methamphetamine.

Police also said they discovered people using illegal drugs inside the apartment.

Strauss did not immediately allow the parole officer to enter the apartment when they requested to enter, but he soon relented, according to police.

"He knew the gig was up," said Officer Devonna Dick, who worked on the case.

Strauss and another resident have been evicted from the apartment according to a memo to building residents from Tomas Zamudio, housing operations manager for College Housing Northwest.

While the Oregon Department of Human Services has assured College Housing Northwest that the apartment poses no threat to other residents, the apartment may need to undergo a lengthy and costly clean-up process before it can be lived in again.

State law requires that any area declared to be a drug lab must undergo an inspection by a state licensed decontamination contractor. If the inspectors find dangerous levels of drug-related chemicals, clean-up procedures costing thousands of dollars may be required. If the inspectors find the area to be safe however, it can quickly be cleared for use.

The full process from being declared a drug lab to being cleared for use again can take anywhere from three weeks to several years, according to Brett Sherry, who coordinates the state clean-up program.

Zamudio declined to comment regarding the current status of the closed-off apartment in the clean-up process.

The apartment is not currently listed on the Department of Human Services’ list of current properties declared unfit for use, but the list has not been updated since Nov. 23.

The use of methamphetamine in Oregon has been a topic of media scrutiny in recent months.

Reacting to a perceived epidemic of meth use, Oregon enacted regulatory rules earlier this month regarding the sale or purchase of meth related materials, many of which are common household items such as cold medicine and road flares.

The new rules require purchasers of cold medicines containing ephedrine to show identification and leave personal information on file.