Wednesday, November 26, 2003

A California man found guilty in March on charges of possession and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute 20 grams of LSD has been sentenced to life in prison without parole by a federal judge in Kansas. A conspirator was given 30 years.

The two men were responsible for making the majority of LSD sold in this country, and the availability of the drug in the United States was reduced by 95 percent after their arrest, said Drug Enforcement Administration agent William J. Renton, Jr.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Rogers in Topeka sentenced William L. Pickard, 58, of Mill Valley, Calif., to the life term, and gave a 30-year sentence to Clyde Apperson, 48, of Sunnyvale, Calif., also on the condition that he cannot be paroled.

Mr. Renton, who heads the agency’s St. Louis division, said the sentences — handed down Tuesday — follow guilty verdicts March 31 after an 11-week jury trial in what was described at the time as the single largest seizure of an operable LSD laboratory in DEA history.

He said that during a raid, agents seized more than 90 pounds of LSD and 300 pounds of LSD precursor chemicals with the ability to create an additional 28 pounds of the illicit drug.

He said in DEA history, there have only been four seizures of complete LSD labs and three of them involved Pickard and Apperson — including a lab in Mountain View, Calif., in 1998, a lab in Oregon in 1996, and the latest seizure, a lab in Wamego, Kansas.

U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren in Kansas said DEA agents searched a silo near Wamego on Oct. 31, 2000, and found an LSD lab packed in storage boxes. A week later, he said, Pickard and Apperson were moving the illegal lab when they were stopped by the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Mr. Melgren said Apperson was arrested driving a rental truck containing the lab. Pickard, who was following the truck in a separate vehicle, fled on foot and was arrested the next day at a farm outside Wamego.

Fourteen canisters of a chemical required to produce LSD valued at over $1 million were found at the silo, he said.

According to court testimony, Pickard and Apperson previously manufactured LSD in Santa Fe, N.M., where every five weeks the lab produced about 2.2 pounds of LSD, about 10 million doses that cost less than 1 cent a dose to produce and would sell for as much as $10 a dose.

Authorities said the LSD was shipped to California and later to Europe for distribution.

“Our nation’s war on drugs is not limited to major metropolitan areas or border states.” Mr. Melgren said. “Manufacturers and traffickers of illegal drugs are increasingly moving to less populated areas in an attempt to avoid detection. This case clearly demonstrates that moving such illegal activity to Kansas is a mistake. …

“The message from this case is clear: Drug dealers and manufacturers may not consider Kansas a place where they may get away with their illegal activities.”

Mr. Renton said the sentencing of Pickard and Apperson brought to a conclusion their “significant role in the international production and distribution of LSD.”

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