Drug busts leads to discovery of new drug in Pocatello
POCATELLO — A Pocatello man is behind bars after a raid by federal agents overnight. Officers from several agencies descended on a trailer park in Pocatello on Wednesday night. The raid was on Driftwood Street on the southwest side of town.
Michael Simmons was arrested by police about 8:30 p.m. Investigators say he was manufacturing a fairly new drug on the market — often called “Pinky.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office is the lead investigators on the case since the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Homeland Security were called to investigate what they found in his home.
Simmons is facing one charge in Bannock County for delivery. In court on Thursday afternoon a Bannock County judge set his bond at $100,000 because of the seriousness of the alleged crime. In court KPVI learned Simmons doesn’t have a lengthy record except for a few misdemeanors. When the judge asked the 32-year-old if he has anything to say before setting bond his reply was, “I didn’t know what I was doing was illegal.”
Courtney Cleveland is Simmon’s neighbor and lives in the Driftwood trailer park. She says, “It was like a bad episode of ‘Breaking Bad.’” It was a bizarre scene outside the Driftwood trailer home in Pocatello on Wednesday. Zen Kvesth lives nearby and says, “We seen firefighters, police man, people in hazmat suits.”
The scene that night was much different from Thursday morning. A sign now posted on the front doors reads, “Warning: A Clandestine laboratory for the manufacture of illegal drugs and or hazardous chemicals was seized at this location.”
Cleveland says, “I asked him if it was a drug bust or what was going on and he wouldn’t tell me anything at first. He just said that there were dangerous chemicals in there.”
Police say Simmons is the man responsible. He was allegedly cooking ‘U-477’ a very dangerous drug, also known as Pinky.
“He has been living here for this long and doing this. Then how many other people around me are actually doing this? And that’s what’s really concerning is you never actually know who you live next to,” Cleveland said.
Many residents didn’t want to speak to KPVI on camera, but those who did, like Kvesth, say, “In this neighborhood, it’s not surprising.”
With the investigation now left for the U.S. attorney’s office. Neighbors living in the trailer park hope this raid is a lesson to any other drug cookers out there.
“Hopefully it stops. Hopefully if anyone else in the area is doing any of this … hopefully it will open their eyes to what can actually happen and how much of a risk it is to other people around them,” Cleveland said. “It’s not just them risking going to jail, it’s risking the lives of everyone else.”
We’re also learning more about the drug known on the street as ‘Pinky.’ Officially it’s also known at U-477. It’s 7 to 10 times more powerful than morphine. It first caught attention of the DEA last year. Then in November it officially became illegal. When KPVI first did the story on the new drug local law enforcement had not seen it in the area yet, but was aware.
The drug was linked to the death of two 13-year-old boys in northern Utah last year.
Simmons is scheduled to appear in court for his preliminary hearing next month. As for federal charges we don’t know yet. Once we get information from the U.S. Attorney’s office we will update this article.
This article was originally published by KPVI. It is used here with permission.