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Narcotics made, used, sold near Santa Barbara preschool, officials say

Posted at 2:32 PM, Jan 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-02 00:18:47-05

Three people are under arrest after the discovery of narcotics that were being made and used at a Santa Barbara home located just feet from a local preschool, authorities say.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says deputies conducted a “narcotics-related investigation” Monday morning at a home on the 100 block of Nogal Drive.

Authorities say they determined the owner of the property, identified as Charles Romanus, 52, of Santa Barbara and a convicted felon, was operating a home where narcotics were being sold, used and “manufactured by means of a clandestine lab.”

The sheriff’s office says deputies located a firearm, chemicals, syringes and other drug paraphernalia.

Officials say deputies attempted to evacuate a preschool that has been located on the property for the past 11 years, but due to the holiday break, no students were present.

The narcotics were reportedly being made just feet from Harmony Preschool, which has about 11 students enrolled between the ages of 2 and 5, authorities say.

Officials say Romanus also operated a non-profit animal rescue facility on the property. Animal control reportedly collected six cats there.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information about the incident or who have children who attend Harmony Preschool and are concerned about possible exposure risks to their children to call (805) 681-4100.

Anonymous tips can be made by calling (805) 681-4171 or online here.

Romanus was arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $100,000. He faces felony charges of illegally manufacturing narcotics, violating the Drug Trafficking and Schoolyard Act of 1988, child endangerment, operating or maintaining a place for narcotics use and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Two others were also arrested – Brandon Topete was booked on narcotics-related charges and a felony warrant and Henry Hewitt was arrested for forgery and impersonation, according to the sheriff’s office.

The chemicals and narcotics were removed from the location following the investigation.

Charles Romanus, Henry Hewitt, and Brandon Topete
Charles Romanus, Henry Hewitt, and Brandon Topete