Arizona firefighter accused of cooking meth in mobile home lab
PHOENIX – An Arizona firefighter was arrested for allegedly running a meth lab out of a mobile home in a remote region of the Tohono O’odham Nation, authorities said Thursday.
Federal agents arrested Stephen Folson, 36, and Desiree Saraficio, 29, after finding drug manufacturing equipment and boxes of over-the-counter allergy medicine used to make meth during a raid on their Santa Rosa residence Monday.
Folson is a Tohono O’odham Nation member and an active firefighter, according to a press release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Meth labs are basically ticking time bombs, waiting for a single spark to ignite and explode causing irreparable damage and in the most extreme cases, death,” Scott Brown, special agent in charge, said in the release.
“Not only is this an environmental hazard, but one that should have never been operated by someone in a position of public trust. The defendants most certainly knew better.”
Folson told agents he’d been using meth for about 10 years and cooking it for three because it was cheaper than buying it, according to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
The complaint said he admitted to buying the ingredients from Canada and China online, including on eBay, to bypass state and federal limits on purchasing medication containing pseudoephedrine.
Saraficio, Folson’s girlfriend, admitted she was a meth user and helped buy the allergy pills, but she said she didn’t cook the drugs, according to the complaint.
The operation was discovered through an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and federal officers with the Native American Targeted Investigations of Violent Enterprises Taskforce following a tip from Border Patrol agents.
“The discovery of the meth lab is yet another example of the importance of partnering with federal agencies to leverage all capabilities to disrupt illicit activities along the southwest border,” Brown said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tucson will prosecute Folson and Saraficio on charges of conspiring to possess and manufacture methamphetamine, according to the release.