Man Gets 30 Years for Selling Iodine

Friday, June 16, 2006

By BILL POOVEY, Associated Press Writer

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A garden center owner was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison Friday for selling iodine used to make methamphetamine in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

Joseph Swafford, 62, also must forfeit his business, Broadway Home and Garden Center, to the government. He declined to comment at his sentencing.

A jury in March convicted Swafford and his business of conspiring to aid illegal drug-making by selling iodine to customers who used it to make methamphetamine. He was not accused of making the drug.

U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier said the 30-year sentence would hopefully"deter those who might be tempted to make the same bad choice you made."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Piper said the three-year investigation included an agent warning Swafford to be on guard against selling iodine to those who could be using it to make the drug.

Collier said evidence showed Swafford sold enough iodine _ more than 2,500 gallons of liquid iodine and almost 3,000 pounds of iodine flakes and pellets _ to manufacture more than 400 kilograms of meth.

Officials said Swafford's profits from selling iodine exceeded $750,000.

Swafford's attorney, Howell Clements, said at the trial that his client had nothing to do with making methamphetamine and never tried to hide his sales of iodine.

Methamphetamine is typically cooked from a recipe that includes toxic household and workplace products, such as iodine, and cold medicine containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.