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Federal marshals serving a warrant uncover meth lab in Falls

NIAGARA FALLS – A former Lockport man with a long criminal history is facing new charges after federal marshals said they found him cooking up a batch of methamphetamine in a Falls Street apartment.

The apartment building was cordoned off by Niagara Falls police after the meth lab was found just after 3:30 p.m. Monday. State police and U.S. Drug Enforcement hazmat agents finished cleaning up the scene Tuesday morning.

John F. Apolito Jr., 30, of Niagara Falls, was charged with violating federal supervision release on weapons- and drug-related charges, according to Daniel E. Larish, U.S. marshal supervisory deputy. He said that the suspected drug lab was turned over to the DEA and further charges are pending. Apolito is also a registered Level 2 sex offender, convicted last May of second-degree sexual abuse for abusing a 13-year-old child, said Larish.

A warrant was issued after Apolito tested positive for opiates and then fled supervision in Niagara Falls, Larish said. A search led to a third-floor apartment at 1936 Falls St. just after 3 p.m. Monday. Deputies broke down a locked bedroom door and had to subdue Apolito to arrest him, police said. Inside his apartment, they found suspected drug paraphernalia for making methamphetamine, including soda bottles and cold capsules.

“The guy was making meth. He was a cooker,” Larish said. “When we entered, I knew he had cooked that day. I could smell it. When the chemicals react they are harmful and caustic.”

The meth lab uncovered Monday is one of a string of meth labs found in the area, with more than a dozen uncovered in Western New York since early 2012, according to Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour. Four were found in Niagara Falls in the past four months, according to Niagara Falls Police Narcotics Lt. Theodore Weed.

“After years of holding it at bay, this seems to be coming into our area, and we are doing the best we can to combat it,” said Falls Police Superintendent Bryan L. DalPorto. “It’s cheap and easy. ... You can buy all the components legally, but [when they put it together] it is very dangerous and very hazardous.”