Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Heightened security, the TSA and airline security just isn't enough to discourage some people.
Here is my submission for idiot of the year award.
Man tries to fly with meth lab
A Kalispell man was arrested Friday for allegedly attempting to board a commercial airplane with a meth lab.
Steven K. Konopatzke, 43, reportedly carried the components for making methamphetamine in carry-on luggage.
They were found during a routine inspection at Glacier Park International Airport.
Security workers reportedly also found sulfuric acid in Konopatzke's checked luggage.
He was reportedly ticketed to fly to Michigan.
A law officer with the Northwest Drug Task Force said Konopatzke denied that the items were his and said he had picked up the bags from a friend he wouldn't identify.
The officer said gray crystals in Konopatzke's bag are thought to be iodine. Also found was a substance tested as ephedrine (a component used in making methamphetamine), a white powder analyzed as a diet pill and another white crystalline substance.
The officer said Konopatzke also carried coffee filters, pieces of hose, clamps and balloons — all are used to make the illegal stimulant.
Another drug task force officer said the toxic and flammable chemicals used to make methamphetamine pose a peril on the ground that would be compounded in an enclosed airplane.
"Anything we are afraid of in meth labs, going up at 32,000 feet or whatever" is worse, he said. People who manufacture methamphetamine in their own homes may jeopardize themselves or a few friends, he said.
Someone bringing chemicals such as iodine and sulfuric acid on a flight endangers everyone on board with the potential of a fire, explosion or a leak of chemicals that would recirculate through the plane’s air system.
Because of that added risk, Konopatzke could face enhanced charges, the officer said.
For now, prosecuting Deputy County Attorney Dan Guzynski has charged Konopatzke with operation of a clandestine drug lab.