Christopher A. Matous allegedly had a pretty solid plan for his working life. The Iowa man held a job at Taco Bell, but decided he wanted to “stay high all the time.” So, he set up a little meth lab in a utility room there.
The jig was up, however, when someone reported suspicious people lingering outside Taco Bell and called police. Police arrived Tuesday to check out the reports, and say they approached Matous and another man, Kent J. Duby, 56, as they stood outside surrounded by contraband, KCRG reported.
What police claim they saw at Matous’ feet was a peeled lithium battery, an ingredient in meth. The manager of the Cedar Rapids Taco Bell, located in a bustling shopping complex, let police in to search the fast food joint.
And they found a lot more than just gorditas. Authorities said they uncovered an active lab inside the Taco Bell’s utility room, including fuel, lye, drain cleaner, and the other sundries necessary to manufacture the drug.
Officials claim to also have found up to two grams of the drug as well.
Not surprisingly, Christopher has been fired, KCCI added.
But finding a lab in a restaurant poses special problems for local officials; such set-ups are usually found in homes, not public spaces. Tuesday’s discovery was a first in Cedar Rapids.
“There aren’t a lot of clear guidelines,” said environmental public health official James Hodina. “We have more experience with meth labs in residential settings, in rental properties.”
Thus, folks in Cedar Rapids are now a bit concerned that the employee’s impromptu meth station poses a health risk. Fortunately, county authorities have assuaged fears by confirming that the pubic likely wasn’t harmed as they munched on burritos and chalupas.
“Some of the chemicals have a volatile nature and there could be some of those (fumes) that could have been distributed throughout the restaurant and could have caused some irritation to the eyes or the lungs or the nose,” said toxicologist Stuart Schmitz.
The Taco Bell is closed and will be examined and decontaminated by “professional environmental experts,” the county’s public health department told KWWL.
As for Matous and his plans to get high, for now they seem to be on hold. He has been charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and three counts of possession of meth precursors. There wasn’t enough evidence to charge Duby with a crime.
Law enforcement hasn’t said how long fast food joint had been home to the meth lab.
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]