A clandestine meth lab operated in the garage of a Long Beach home, officials confirmed Tuesday, after first responders found an unconscious and injured man on the lawn last week.
The man, Jovin Weinstock, 40, who was taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital for treatment Friday, was arrested and awaiting arraignment on a felony reckless endangerment charge, police said Tuesday in a news release.
Long Beach police officers responded to a call Friday morning about the injured man outside a detached garage on Beech Street, and investigators found unknown chemicals being heated in the garage. Residents of nearby streets were ordered to evacuate and were kept out of their homes for more than 12 hours. "It was an extremely dangerous and volatile situation," Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said in a statement.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, "Meth is manufactured using readily available ingredients that when mixed together can also be heavily toxic and explosive."
The stimulant is highly addictive; the highs fade swiftly, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says, so addicts tend to fall into what it calls a "binge and crash" pattern.
Authorities said Weinstock lives at the house. Long Beach police had no further comment Tuesday on his condition, nor offered additional details.
Images of the home show a large, well-kept two-story house with flowering gardens. The neighbors who were evacuated included County Comptroller Jack Schnirman’s family — his in-laws, he said, were the ones who called 911. “We appreciate how much all of the first responders showed up immediately and took every precaution to keep our family and everyone safe,” Schnirman said by telephone.
Neighbors described Weinstock as a brilliant individual skilled in science.
While the metropolitan region’s battles with opioid and heroin overdoses are well known, methamphetamine use appears to be less common than in other areas, from upstate New York to the Midwest and South. In 2012, a hidden lab was unearthed in Stony Brook, according to DEA records. Six years before that, meth manufacturers were found in Farmingville, Patchogue and Ridge, the records show.
“Clandestine labs are rare but very dangerous in New York City and Long Island,” a DEA spokeswoman said by email. “DEA’s priority is public safety, so when we encounter these labs we have our … lab team safely secure and dismantle the clandestine operation.”
On Friday, Long Beach police and fire officials, alerted that a man appeared to have passed out in a yard, discovered the hidden lab in the detached garage while they were trying to figure out where he came from and whether anyone else was injured, according to the statement.
"The laboratory had an active source heating a liquid and there was what appeared to be a chemical process occurring," it said. "Rescue personnel backed out, evacuated surrounding homes and requested hazardous material response teams," police continued.
The Nassau police emergency services unit, police arson and bomb squad, the FBI bomb disposal unit, the county fire marshal's office, the DEA and Long Beach detectives searched and "removed a substance" from the home, it said.
A State Police emergency response team confirmed the clandestine lab was making methamphetamine. "A very large quantity of chemicals, laboratory equipment and electronic devices were removed," Long Beach police said.
New York's database of professional licenses shows a Jovin Adam Weinstock of Long Beach obtained a clinical laboratory technologist license on May 20, 2014. His neighbor said he was a glassblower; on Linkedin, that is how an individual with the same name lists his profession.
Court records show that Weinstock previously pleaded guilty to aggravated driving while intoxicated.