Meth puts last nail in 420’s coffin

To the initiated, “420” is an allusion to marijuana, but drug enforcement agents allege Christopher Mikell was cooking up something a lot stronger than pot in his recording studio by the Chico Municipal Airport.

The Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force is looking for Mikell to charge him for crimes including manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of the chemicals to make meth and possession of meth for sale. The cops also are on the verge of questioning Mikell’s business partner in The Real 420 recording studio, Mark White, but BINTF Commander Vic Lacey said, “His involvement is probably limited.”

On June 11, reacting to complaints by one of 420’s airport neighbors of “fumes and bad odors,” Lacey said the Chico Fire Department and BINTF discovered a meth lab amid the $500,000 in recording equipment. Allegedly included was the telltale chemical red phosphorus, glassware with Mikell’s fingerprints on it, scales and packaging supplies, fully cooked crystal meth, pornography videos and an unregistered .357-caliber Magnum. “There was evidence he had cooked many, many times out there,” Lacey said.

They also went to Mikell’s home on Caprice Way, which he had just moved out of, and to a storage unit on Highway 99. At both locations they said they found more evidence of meth manufacture.

The recording studio came to Chico about four years ago and was hailed as the next big thing in rap and hip-hop. But The Real 420 soon fell from favor among local artists as promises were broken regarding money and music distribution.

“Everyone was on bad terms with [The Real 420],” said MC Empty Mynd, one of the original investors in The Real 420 who split with the company in July 2001 and signed with West World Entertainment. “They did a lot of people wrong. They’re the most hated people in the whole city.”

Empty Mynd was surprised to hear Mikell was allegedly making meth, in part because pot, not methamphetamine, is generally the choice for those in rap circles who opt for drugs.

Lacey said Mikell dealt frequently in cash but had no source of income on the books. His possessions include a 28-foot boat estimated at between $40,000 and $50,000 in value. But he was apparently in over his head. “He bought a lot of stuff on credit, and a lot of creditors are calling,” Lacey said.

Acknowledging that Mikell doesn’t fit the profile of typical meth-makers, Lacey said, “It looks like he probably just turned to making meth to make money. It’s kind of sad, really.”

He added that Mikell seems to have no previous criminal record on file.

The meth stench was reported by 402’s airport neighbor Blue Haven Pools, which public records show had been hired by White to put in a $19,200 swimming pool in July 2002. Lacey said construction on that pool was stopped when the bill was not paid.

Although Lacey said Mikell "could be desperate" and will be treated as potentially armed and dangerous, Empty Mynd said he didn’t know him to be violent.