A former co-director of the UCLA Drug Policy Analysis Program was convicted Monday of running one of the largest LSD laboratories in history – out of an old missile silo.
William Leonard Pickard, who was employed at UCLA for nearly two years, and Clyde Apperson, his assistant, were convicted Monday of two counts each of conspiring to distribute and manufacture large amounts of LSD.
On Oct. 31, 2000, the Drug Enforcement Agency discovered an old missile silo in Kansas that had been used as an LSD lab. The lab had been taken apart and was packed up in storage boxes.
In the silo, agents found 90.86 pounds of LSD and 14 canisters of a chemical needed to produce LSD. The canisters were valued at over $1,000,000.
Pickard and Apperson were arrested on Nov. 6, 2000 outside Wamego, Kansas while trying to move their drug lab using a rental truck.
According to court testimony, Pickard and Apperson formerly produced LSD in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Every five weeks, they produced 2.2 pounds of LSD – approximately 10 million doses.
The LSD, which could be sold for about $10 per dose, was being shipped to California and Europe for distribution, according to court testimony.
Pickard, who was employed at UCLA from 1999 until about two months before his arrest in 2000, was the co-director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program.
The program, which is a part of the School of Public Policy, focuses on researching the effects of drug policy issues on the public, said Mark Kleiman, professor of public policy and director of the program.
Kleiman, who worked with Pickard, said he did not want to comment on the conviction of his former colleague.
“I can’t think of anything to say that will make this situation better and not worse. As you can imagine, this will be a very painful situation for a lot of people,” Kleiman said.
Pickard’s employment did not end because of anything related to his later arrest, Kleiman said.
The conviction was not Pickard’s first.
In 1976, Pickard was convicted of making LSD. In 1980, he was arrested for allegedly selling a hallucinogenic drug, MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy. In 1988, he was arrested for allegedly vacating a LSD lab hidden in a Mountain View warehouse as it was raided.
Pickard faced 20 years in prison if convicted in 1988, but according to a court affidavit, charges were dropped because he was an informant.
According to trial evidence, three of the four complete LSD lab seizures in the history of the DEA have involved Pickard and Apperson, including a lab in Oregon in 1996, a lab in Mountain View in 1998, and the lab in Kansas in 2000.
Kleiman would not comment on why Pickard was hired despite his history of drug convictions and arrests.
UCLA does not have a definitive policy against convicted drug traffickers, said Lynne Thompson, manager of employee and labor relations.
Pickard and Apperson each face a minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in federal prison. Their sentencing is set for Aug. 8.