A routine traffic stop in downtown Homer Saturday afternoon turned into an emergency situation when an Alaska State Trooper found a methamphetamine laboratory inside a vehicle.
In a criminal complaint filed at the Homer Courthouse, Trooper David Chaffin wrote that he pulled over a silver 2000 Oldsmobile sedan at about 2:47 p.m. Saturday afternoon at the intersection of Waddell Way and the Sterling Highway, after the driver failed to signal for a right-hand turn.
Chaffin says that when he contacted the driver – 26-year-old Homer resident Timothy Igou – he noticed what appeared to be a handgun on the front seat. A pat down of Igou revealed a glass pipe that the suspect admitted was for smoking methamphetamine, and a small baggie of what the officer suspected was methamphetamine.
Although it’s not detailed in the criminal complaint, Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters says Chaffin soon suspected that Igou was operating a mobile laboratory for making methamphetamine in the vehicle.
"It was determined there was what we felt was a meth lab," she said. "We have haz-mat crews come in and deal with that because the substances can be very volatile. That's why the road was closed down for such a length of time."
The hazardous material crew was called in from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency in Anchorage, says Peters, and the area around the Homer Post Office was closed off until 10 p.m. while the crew dismantled the lab.
She says it’s not unheard of for law enforcement officers to find a meth lab that is small and mobile.
"There (are) different ways that people can make methamphetamine," she said. "They can be small enough to fit in a backpack or they can be large enough to fill up an entire garage."
Igou was arrested and transported to the Homer Jail, where he is being held without bail. He is charged with Fourth Degree Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance but Peters says further charges are likely pending an ongoing investigation.
According to Alaska Court records, Igou was convicted of Fourth Degree Assault in January and was sentenced to one year in jail, with nine months suspended and credit for time served.
All criminal suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.