Chemicals that could be used to produce $8 million worth of the hallucenogenic drug PCP were seized last night at a house in Anacostia by agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and D.C. and Prince George's County police, authorities reported.
The seizure, which included a quantity of an illicit substance produced in the first stage of the PCP-manufacturing process, was believed to be the largest ever in the District.
Edward Lee Hainsworth, 39, a resident of the house at 1225 Sumner Rd. SE, was arrested about 7:30 p.m. on federal charges of manufacturing PCP, according to a DEA spokesman.
Hainsworth was being held last night without bond pending arraignment today in U.S. District Court, said D.C. police spokesman Lt. William White III.
White said Hainsworth was being held through an arrangement worked out by the U.S. attorney's office and a federal magistrate because of the "circumstances revolving around this individual." He would not elaborate.
PCP, or phencyclidine, is an animal tranquilizer that is often sold on the street with nicknames such as "angel dust" or "loveboat." It is usually manufactured as a liquid that is sprayed on marijuana or herbal cigarettes and then smoked.
Use of the drug, which produces bizarre and frequently violent behavior in users, has been increasing rapidly in District and now rivals heroin as the city's biggest drug problem.
Earlier this year, the D.C. City Council passed a bill that triples the maximum jail term for the making and selling of PCP from five to 15 years and doubles the fine to $100,000.
"As far as we can determine, there was no finished product, but we found . . . all the chemical compounds to make the finished product," DEA agent Alexander Smith said of last night's seizure.
Five chemicals are used in the two-stage production of PCP, he said. The substances, including potassium cyanide, were found throughout the house, along with gas masks, protective gloves and laboratory glassware, Smith said.
The house in which the chemicals were found, a two-story semidetached brick, is in a neighbordhood adjacent to the Barry Farms housing development and just west of the Suitland Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.
The largest previous PCP seizure in the District was made last December at 4307 First St. SE where police confiscated equipment and chemicals that could be used to produce $5.4 million worth of PCP. At the time, police said that quantity could supply every user in the Washington area for more than a week.