TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA — Marine leaders aboard Twentynine Palms are still recovering from Monday's discovery of a methamphetamine laboratory in the office of the base's commanding general.
Maj. Gen. Oscar Mathers is already facing several dozen meth-related charges, as well as improper use of the government vehicle he stole while attempting to flee the scene. Police also arrested Mathers' aide, 2nd Lt. Virgil "Spooge" Chambers, as an accessory.
Maj. Gen. David Berger has been appointed the acting commander of the base while Navy Criminal investigators continue their questioning of Mathers.
First Responders uncovered the lab after responding to what they thought was a routine fire caused by shoddy electrical work. Instead, firefighters discovered several rooms full of equipment commonly-used in the production of meth: ammonia, lye, dozens of crates of cold medicine, six boxes of matches scrounged from MREs, and a Mr. Meth maker in the back room.
NCIS think the lab was capable of producing more than 100,000 hits of meth every two days, enough to supply the neighboring town of Joshua Tree for a whole three hours.
According to investigators, this is the biggest meth scandal in Twentynine Palms since last year's investigation by the California State Police revealed that the entire town was just a front for the Zeta Cartel.
Several anonymous sources believe Mathers' meth empire dwarfed even that.
He is accused of employing his own group of enforcers, nicknamed "The Coyotes," to keep rival meth dealers off the base. They also allegedly schooled visiting Marine units in the latest Tactics, Techniques & Procedures on meth creation and distribution of their product, which they nicknamed "Salton Glee" after a local landmark.
There have been stories, thought to be rumors, of several hidden towns aboard the Twentynine Palms base that are actually meth super-labs. Loud booming sounds routinely heard on the base, commonly explained as intense live-fire training, are now believed to have been meth lab explosions.
Members of the base military police are now pointing to seemingly-obvious warning signs that all was not right on the base.
"We've been hearing for all these years about the sewage problem in Lake Bandini," said a base public affairs official. "But we never thought to ask why there were always dozens of mobile homes emitting chemical fumes conveniently parked nearby."
In addition, on two occasions Mathers was observed driving a semi-truck full of anhydrous ammonia through the front gate. However when challenged by sentries, he explained that it was simply to fertilize his marijuana plants and they let him pass.