Raiders Arrest 2 Chemists, Seize Makings of Narcotics

Federal drug agents arrested two chemists, including a North Hollywood man, on suspicion of manufacturing an illegal drug that is 1,000 times more powerful than morphine, authorities said Friday.

Kenneth Marvin Baker of West Hollywood was arrested Thursday night and Luther Dixon of North Hollywood was arrested Friday. They are suspected of manufacturing three-methyl fentanyl, said Johnnie Granados, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Agents also seized $30,000 in cash and a large quantity of chemicals used in the manufacture the powerful narcotic in the raid on Baker’s apartment laboratory on North Horn Avenue, Granados said.

No finished batches of the drug were found.


A search of Dixon’s laboratory in the 11000 block of La Maida Street uncovered enough chemical to produce more that 100 million dosage units of the drug, Granados said.

“This particular substance is 1,000 times stronger than morphine,” Granados said. “It is the same substance that 97 overdoses have been attributed to in the San Jose-Fresno area during the past year.”

The drug is sometimes called “China White,” he added.

Granados described Baker as a “whiz chemist” who allegedly developed a formula for a powerful heroin substitute several years ago. Dixon, who has a Ph.D in chemistry, was the No. 2 producer, he said.


Several of Dixon’s neighbors said after the arrests that they had seen many people going in and out of the well-maintained, two-story house. But they said they had little or no contact with the home’s residents.

Others said they could smell a strong, ether-like odor for about 30 minutes after police entered the house.