SCHENECTADY - A federal drug raid last week uncovered evidence of a illegal hallucinogen-making operation, federal authorities said.
The investigation began with an intercepted postal package and later touched off concerns from a nearby church over investigators' use of the church's parking lot without asking.
Arrested was 28-year-old Daniel Scotsross, of Schenectady. He faces one federal count of attempting to possess with intent to distribute the hallucinogen N-dimethyltryptamine, known as DMT, a drug similar to LSD, U.S. Attorney's officials said.
Scotsross appeared in federal court Thursday and was released pending further proceedings, officials said.
The investigation began July 13 when a package addressed to Scotsross's residence was seized and searched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in California. The package was found to contain a red bark inside plastic bags. The bark tested positive for DMT and would generally be processed into the drug, according to a federal affidavit filed in the case filed by a special agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations.
Then, on July 22, last Wednesday, agents replaced the bark, resealed the package and went to deliver it. Scotsross accepted the package and took it inside his residence, the affidavit reads.
Soon after, agents raided Scotsross' residence. Agents recovered the package, along with "numerous liquid substances" and other tools used in the manufacture of DMT and LSD, the affidavit reads.
The search also uncovered two mason jars, one with a powdery residue that tested positive for LSD and another with a concentrated liquid in the freezer that also tested positive for LSD, the affidavit reads.
The raid ultimately used the private parking lot of the nearby historically Black Mt. Olivet at Missionary Baptist Church. The church's pastor didn't learn agents were using the lot until a staffer noticed unusual activity while monitoring remote surveillance cameras.
Rev. Horace Sanders, Jr. said he would have granted permission to use the church's lot, if asked, but he was concerned about the lack of communication, saying it left "so much room for something to happen." Tensions were heightened by a lack of identification, Sanders said then.
Neighbor Sean Walls last week described watching investigators work after the raid, saying he saw them leave the house with jars filled with yellow liquid he described as resembling pickle juice. He later said he watched the hazmat team dump the jars into large blue barrels.
The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with the assistance of the Schenectady Police Department, Albany County Sheriff's Department, and the New York State Police Crime Scene Emergency Response Team. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashlyn Miranda.