Police say a Stokes Valley house being used this morning as a clandestine drugs laboratory was a "ticking time bomb" and just moments away from exploding.
"Containers of chemicals had been left heating on elements," says Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Berry, head of Wellington Districtâ€™s Organised Crime Unit. "Scientific experts tell us the chemicals would have exploded, posing an extreme risk to neighbours, police, ESR staff and emergency services officers at the scene.
"We were lucky to discover the danger when we did."
Three men have been arrested on drugs charges and a fourth is being sought in relation to alleged activities at the Holborne Drive, Stokes Valley, house.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Small, head of Lower Hutt CIB, says police, accompanied by armed offenders squad officers, the police clan lab team and ESR scientists, executed search warrants at the rental property around 5am today.
He says four men fled the scene as police arrived, dropping down a sheer bank onto George Street, Stokes Valley. Three were quickly caught but police are still searching for the fourth man.
Those arrested -- a 24 year old, a 28 year old and a 40 year old - are appearing in the Lower Hutt District Court today charged with:
â€¢ Manufacturing a Class A drug methamphetamine
â€¢ Attempting to manufacture a Class A drug
â€¢ Conspiracy to manufacture a Class A drug
â€¢ Possession of precursor substances used in the manufacture of a Class A drug.