San Diego State University Lab Closed after Used to Make Drugs

SAN DIEGO -- A chemistry graduate student allegedly used a research lab at San Diego State University to manufacture methamphetamine, Ecstasy and an anesthetic 80 times more potent than morphine, authorities said.

Matthew Finley, 26, was arrested at his home in Ocean Beach on Wednesday on drug charges and the Chemical Sciences Laboratory was shut down as investigators removed the drugs, said Misha Piastro, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"He felt he could get away with it. To his disappointment today, he did not," Piastro said. "His disregard for the safety of the rest of the student body is alarming and not something we take lightly."

Finley told investigators that he manufactured methamphetamine and a chemical used to make methamphetamine, as well as Ecstasy and an anesthetic called fentanyl in the university lab, according a court document. Capsules of Ecstasy, vials of fentanyl and three marijuana plants were seized from his home, authorities said.

Finley, who was pursuing a master's degree in chemistry, was convicted of drug charges in Santa Barbara in 2002 and placed on probation, according to a complaint filed with a San Diego federal judge Wednesday.

At that time, he told investigators he used a lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara to convert a liquid form of the drug Ecstasy into a powder, according to the complaint.

Finley was caught growing marijuana the following year and again placed on probation. A judge sentenced him to two years in prison but suspended the sentence.

University police approached the DEA late last year after being tipped that someone was manufacturing methamphetamine in the lab. A surveillance camera captured Finley late last month working with a dark liquid that later tested positive for Ecstasy, authorities said.

The lab was expected to reopen Thursday.