Iowa Taco Bell Closed For Decontamination Due To Meth Components In Utility Room

At least one Taco Bell employee may have been planning to cook more than Quesaritos inside the building, according to local police in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Police say that two men were responsible for the “active meth-making ingredients” found in a utility room at the restaurant, but don’t know for sure whether the men actually cooked any methamphetamine in their makeshift lab.

What do you do when a restaurant is found to be the site of a potential meth lab? Taco Bell will first have an outside company that does specialized cleanups remove any traces of hazardous chemicals from the building. After that, the local health department will have to perform its own inspection before the restaurant is allowed to re-open to the public.

How contaminated a building is by a meth lab depends on how long manufacturing had been going on, and how much of various components were in the building. The chemicals used in drug manufacture can stick around in building materials like floor and ceiling tiles. Police are trying to figure out how long the men could have been set up in the utility room, and how much meth, if any, they may have made.

Police don’t think that customers or employees at this Taco Bell were ever in danger, but are investigating the situation. The health department will not allow the restaurant to reopen unless they’re sure that customers and employees will be safe and that nothing is contaminated.

The two men were arrested and charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. One of them (police won’t identify which man) was an employee of the restaurant, and has been fired.

Here’s a statement that Taco Bell sent to us, in which they make it clear that the suspicious ingredients were never in the restaurant’s kitchen, and that police didn’t find a full meth lab in the restaurant.

We understand that two people, one an employee, entered our franchisee’s restaurant illegally, allegedly possessing suspicious items. Both we and our franchisee find this completely unacceptable. Our franchisee has been cooperating with Cedar Rapids Police to investigate this isolated incident. Although the suspicious items found in the restaurant were not used in the kitchen, the employee has been terminated and our franchisee is considering pressing criminal charges. The restaurant will reopen after it has been sanitized [and] inspected by the Health Department

Health officials: No timeline on when Taco Bell will reopen after possible meth lab found [KWWL]