Three men were arrested Monday in an investigation that revealed drugs were being manufactured, sold and used on the property of Harmony Preschool in Santa Barbara, authorities said.
At approximately 10 a.m. Monday, sheriff’s deputies were conducting an investigation at a home in the 100 block of Nogal Drive and determined that the owner of the property, Charles Romanus, 52, of Santa Barbara, a convicted felon, was operating a house were narcotics were being manufactured in a clandestine lab, Senior Deputy Jeremy Rogers, sheriff’s spokesman, said in a news release.
Evidence collected at the home indicated narcotics were also being sold and used at the location. Authorities located a firearm, chemicals, dozens of syringes and other paraphernalia at the home, Senior Deputy Rogers said.
It was also learned that a local preschool was also located on the property, which has approximately 11 students ages 2 to 5. The school has been operating at that location for the past 11 years and “is just feet from where narcotics were being made, sold and used,” Senior Deputy Rogers said.
No students were present at the time of the investigation, authorities said.
Mr. Romanus was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of five felonies, including illegally manufacturing narcotics, violation of drug trafficking and schoolyard act of 1988, child endangerment, operating or maintaining a place for narcotics use, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, Senior Deputy Rogers said.
Henry Hewitt, 32, was arrested on suspicion of felony false impersonation of another and forgery.
Brandon Topete, 24, was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, possession of an injecting device and a felony no bail warrant for robbery.
Detectives with the sheriff’s Special Investigations Bureau along with Santa Barbara County Fire Department personnel responded and removed harmful chemicals from the residence.
Mr. Romanus also operated a nonprofit animal rescue facility on the property. A total of six cats were collected by county Animal Control, authorities said.
Those with children who attend the preschool and are concerned about possible risks to the children are asked to call the sheriff’s office at 681-4100. To leave an anonymous tip on this or other crime, call 681-4171 or visitwww.sbsheriff.org/home/anonymous-tip/.