Lab Owner Who Supplied Drug Dealers Gets 40-Year Prison Term, $250,000 Fine


A laboratory owner who sold glassware and chemicals to drug dealers was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison Monday and fined $250,000.

Saying Robert Miskinis is partly to blame for San Diego being described as the “methamphetamine capital of the United States,” U.S. District Judge Howard Turrentine imposed the 40-year term sought by prosecutors.

Miskinis, 40, of El Cajon owned RJM Laboratories in Lakeside and Safe Labs in Santee before the labs were seized and he was arrested in August, 1988.


He was convicted of operating a continuing criminal enterprise and on 10 counts of aiding and abetting in the manufacture of methamphetamine and aiding interstate travel in aid of racketeering.

“The defendant no doubt was the largest seller of the ingredients of methamphetamine,” Turrentine said. “Our little town acquired the title of the methamphetamine capital of the United States.”

The sentence is one of the longest given to someone convicted of drug offenses.

Many of Miskinis’ customers are now in prison themselves. Among them are brothers Manuel and Jack Battaglia, serving 20- and 29-year terms, respectively, for distributing methamphetamine.

Under new federal sentencing guidelines, Assistant U.S. Atty. Pat Swan said, Miskinis will have to serve 80% of the sentence, or 34 years, before being eligible for parole.

“It was a well-deserved sentence,” Swan said.

In court, Swan described Miskinis as having an “insatiable appetite for the holy dollar.”

“He made San Diego the methamphetamine capital of the U.S.,” Swan said. “He structured his entire business to suit (drug dealers’) business. For his assistance, he made a fortune.”

In an Aug. 19, 1988, raid, federal agents seized Miskinis’ house, business, equipment, patents, bank accounts and retirement funds. In court, his former attorney, John Mitchell, estimated the value of the seized assets at $4 million.


Miskinis’ new attorney, Joseph Milchen, urged the judge to impose the minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for the continuing criminal enterprise count.

Miskinis read a lengthy statement in court criticizing Mitchell’s efforts in the August trial. Turrentine responded that Mitchell provided “an excellent defense” for Miskinis.

Miskinis was convicted Aug. 30.