November 7, 2000: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) discovers the country’s largest LSD laboratory hidden inside a decommissioned nuclear missile silo in Wamego, Kansas. The lab run by underground drug chemist William Leonard Pickard, 55, of San Francisco, and his assistant, Clyde Apperson, 45, of Mountain View, was alleged to have supplied a third of the LSD in the world. At the site, DEA Agents seized 91 pounds of LSD and 52 pounds of iso-LSD, a byproduct from the manufacture of LSD. Authorities estimate the lab was grossing approximately $600,000 a week in profit.
Pickard and Apperson began manufacturing LSD in Santa Fe, N.M., producing approximately 2.2 pounds of the hallucinogen every five weeks, enough to make 10 million doses. The finished product was then packaged and shipped to Los Angeles and Europe where it sold for $10.00 a dose. William Pickard who studied at Princeton, San Jose State, Stanford and Harvard was a former research manager at UC Berkeley and the assistant director for the UCLA Drug Policy Analysis Program. He is considered one of the Country’s most prolific and eccentric drug manufacturers in history.
After an 11 week Federal Trial in Topeka, Kansas, both men were convicted of two counts of Conspiracy to Manufacture and Distribute LSD and Possession with Intent to Distribute. District Court Judge Richard Rogers sentenced Pickard, the chemist in the operation, to two life terms and Apperson his assistant who set up, tore down and transported the lab, to two concurrent 30-year terms in prison.