Updated coverage: BYU student with bedroom meth lab faces felony charge, calls in attorney
The occupant of a student apartment where police found a working meth lab was still unaccounted for Monday but did respond to a question from The Universe.
Police found the meth lab in Bryce Cazier’s bedroom in the Riviera Apartments just off the BYU campus on Nov. 7. Cazier told the Universe in a text, “No comment. The only thing I will say is the news has it wrong.”
Cazier’s roommates did not identify him by name but said he is a BYU student. They became suspicious when a fire broke out in Cazier’s bedroom on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 6. The roommates helped put out the fire. Cazier then left to visit a friend in the hospital, according to roommate Nick Zarate. Zarate said he and other roommates then picked the lock on Cazier’s bedroom door and discovered alcohol containers and “a lot of sketchy things.”
The roommates reported the incident to the Riviera management on Friday, Nov. 7, and management alerted the police. Two fire trucks, one police car and one HazMat vehicle were dispatched to investigate and manage the situation. Provo Police Lt. Brandon Post said the meth lab was “fully operational,” and it did not look like it was the first cook.
“We are looking into finding him,” Post said. “I suspect we will be able to find him, even if he leaves the state.”
Drug Enforcement Administration officials quarantined the apartment and relocated Cazier’s roommates. The roommates said they returned to the apartment to retrieve their belongings on Saturday, Nov. 8.
Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said meth labs can have dangerous consequences for people in the surrounding environment.
“The process of making meth does create off-gassing, or gasses that come off as a byproduct of the meth process,” he said. “It is extremely dangerous. It can be deadly in concentrated amounts.”
He said he has known police officers who have suffered long-term health effects from coming into contact with homemade meth labs. Clothing and other objects made of highly porous material also have a high likelihood of being contaminated.
“If it were my kids living in that apartment, I would say, ‘You’re getting a new wardrobe, you’re getting a new computer, you’re never touching that stuff again,'” he said.
Utah County Health Department spokesman Lance Madigan said certain factors that would determine whether the roommates were exposed to hazardous chemicals, including the ventilation in the area and when and how long the meth cooked. He said it is unlikely that other apartments nearby would have been affected because they don’t have a shared ventilation system.
One roommate, who identified himself only as Garret, said the roommates did smell a suspicious odor but didn’t know what it was.
“I would be very surprised if the roommates did not smell something,” Cannon said, noting the distinct “cat urine” odor that cooking meth gives off. However, he said only someone who was familiar with that smell would know what it was.
Madigan said the apartment will not be put back into use until a health department-contracted official has thoroughly decontaminated the area. He said he does not know who let the roommates back into the apartment to move their belongings.
BYU student and Riviera Apartments resident Desiree Moss felt embarrassed about the situation because she goes to church with Cazier. “I was surprised that the Riviera didn’t catch it themselves. The Riviera should have been on top of it through cleaning checks.”
According to the Riviera Apartments’ website, there were no cleaning checks scheduled for the month of November. Apartment 107, where the meth lab was found, was scheduled for a cleaning check on Oct. 8 and wouldn’t receive another until Dec. 4.
Amy Peterson, another BYU student and Riviera Apartments resident, said she felt uncomfortable with police and firefighters present but said she wasn’t surprised about the situation “because there are some interesting people who live around here.”
Post said meth is common in Provo, but police see fewer meth labs than they used to.
“Meth labs used to be quite common in the ’90s and early 2000s,” he said. “They aren’t as common anymore, as most people find they can purchase it cheaper than they can manufacture it.”