Sean Webby, Mercury News, 14 November 2011 (hat tip: NC)
Eighty-eight-year-old retired metallurgist Bob Wallace is a self-described tinkerer, but he hardly thinks of himself as the Thomas Edison of the illegal drug world.
He has nothing to hide. His product is packaged by hand in a cluttered Saratoga garage. It's stored in a garden shed in the backyard. The whole operation is guarded by an aged, congenial dog named Buddy.
But federal and state drug enforcement agents are coming down hard on Wallace's humble homemade solution, which he concocted to help backpackers purify water.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and state regulators say druggies can use the single ingredient in his "Polar Pure" water purifier -- iodine -- to make crystal meth.
Note that he has been selling these water purifiers since 1983, and that his two big spikes in sales were at the Y2k Scare, and after the recent Japanese reactor meltdown. He sold 1,200 of his purifiers at $6.50 after the last event with one bottle being able to disinfect 2,000 quarts of water. But neither episode has noted connections to meth-labe production. But once authorities become obsessed with a "threat" there is really no stopping them.
In 2007 the DEA passed a regulation requiring a $1,200 fee, and a host of paperwork requirements. His ignoring these requirements is what has brought on his current legal battles.