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Meth lab suspect's case could grow Falls man's counts may turn federal

A man from A Street faces felony charges and could face federal counts after police said he was operating a methamphetamine lab out of his home.

Pedro J. Velazquez, 27, had been on the run for three weeks after police discovered the meth lab in a room of his home and in the detached garage.

He was brought in by police last weekend after being stopped for allegedly shoplifting sandwiches and chicken wings from a Niagara Falls Boulevard supermarket.

"He told detectives that because he was in hiding [from police], he hadn't been eating, and that's why he had to take food," said Narcotics Lt. Bryan DalPorto.

Velazquez was arraigned Monday in City Court on charges of petit larceny and felony counts of methamphetamine manufacturing. He was being held after not posting $3,000 bail and was to appear in court for a preliminary hearing today.

Police following up on a domestic-violence call found the drug-making equipment in the home off Hyde Park Boulevard on April 27. Officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in hazmat suits responded to the scene, along with Niagara Falls firefighters, who roped off the area and cleared out neighbors due to the highly explosive materials used for making the drug.

DalPorto told The Buffalo News on Thursday that the lab was the first of its kind that he has seen in the city.

"I pray it's not a growing trend," DalPorto said. "It creates a whole different set of problems because of the dangers involved."

DalPorto said federal agents are looking at prosecuting the case because of the danger to the community.

"They want to derail and discourage others," he said.