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Built for Speed

Nothing says summer like the mobile ice-cream man.

But what about the methamphetamine man?

On July 23, Denver police pulled over a car in the Cherry Creek area only to discover that the vehicle housed a mobile meth lab -- a "rolling lab," in law-enforcement jargon. (So, do addicts chase the car waving dollar bills or something?) Denver Police Department spokesman John White declined to elaborate on how this migratory enterprise functioned, but he did say that the information gleaned from that bust led officers to a residence at 3121 York Street, where they found an even bigger meth lab in the basement.

Stephen Papson owns the house busted for meth.
Stephen Papson owns the house busted for meth.

Westword readers may recall this small brick house in north Denver as the location where former Go-Go Magazine publisher Gary Haney ran what was left of his escort-business empire before beating up one of his call girls for allegedly stiffing him on cash ("Big Trouble," February 23). Also arrested in connection with the December 2005 assault and robbery incident was the owner of the house, 34-year-old Stephen Papson, who managed to make bail while his former roomie maintained a residence at Denver County Jail.

When Papson appeared in court for a February 17 hearing, he was looking healthy and chipper -- qualities unexpected for a homeowner whose abode several Westword sources described as a rumpus room for tweakers. When Westword visited the address in March, the door was answered by an emaciated woman in her mid-twenties who looked as if she hadn't slept in 72 hours, a condition she attributed to "really bad asthma."

But when the cops finally stepped onto the porch last week, they got beyond the front door and took a haggard-looking Papson into custody, along with 30-year-old Daniel Snead and 29-year-old Jodi Emmans. White calls the meth seizure particularly significant "in terms of the amount of dangerous chemicals there." So dangerous, in fact, that the 3100 block of York was shut down into the next day while the investigation continued.

A Denver narcotics detective who was on the scene says such a close-off is common practice in meth cases. "What we've got to do when we clean the [labs] out is we bring out everything that's hazardous, and we've got to determine if it's an acid or a base," he explains. "And we don't want to mix those together, so we have to have some space to keep those separate."

Although Haney was recently freed from jail following a plea bargain, he was nowhere near his old digs during the bust. According to friends, he says he's working on cleaning up his life.

But cleaning the York Street house won't be as easy. "When I got called out, I thought, Œ3121 York? I know that address,'" recalls the narcotics cop, who has interviewed several of Haney's former escort employees and now works solely on meth cases. "It's getting into suburbia, it's getting into the rural areas, it's getting into the heart of the city. It's everywhere."

And now it's on wheels.

 
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