Police break up meth lab in Ripon

Police arrested two people after officers discovered a "medium-sized" methamphetamine lab at a home on East Clinton South Avenue, east of Jack Tone Road in Ripon.

The property included the home, a large detached garage and two barns, said Ripon police spokesman Lt. Ed Ormonde.

He said the officers were conducting a parole search at the home Tuesday morning and talking to two men inside when they noticed "precursor chemicals" and other items they believed were being used to manufacture meth. The officers also smelled a strong chemical odor.

They detained Larry Dargitz, 60, of Stockton and James Polse, 57, of Ripon.

Ormonde said the officers found an active lab inside the house, but he could not estimate how much finished product was discovered, although much of it was left in the filtering system. He said the officers also found remnants of an old lab, portable gas cans and glassware scattered throughout the detached garage and the barns.

"This wasn't what we call a 'Beavis and Butt-Head' operation where there's a single flask or jar," Ormonde said. "It's a little more complex, but it's not a superlab, either."

Dargitz was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing meth, possessing drug paraphernalia and conspiracy to commit a crime. Dargitz also was arrested on suspicion of violating parole stemming from a conviction a few years ago tied to a meth lab in Oakdale. He was the focus of the initial search, Ormonde said.

Polse was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing meth, possessing a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture meth and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Both men were being held at the San Joaquin County Jail on Wednesday. Dargitz was being held without bail, and Polse's bail was set at $403,000.

A third suspect, whose family owns the property, is wanted for questioning in the case.

Ormonde said the owners live out of the area, and are not believed to have known about the lab.

The Manteca police Street Crimes Unit, the San Joaquin County METRO Narcotic Taskforce and the state Department of Justice assisted in the investigation and the cleanup, Ormonde said.