Ex-federal police officer faces drug charge after Md. lab explosion

WASHINGTON — A former federal police officer has been charged with trying to manufacture methamphetamine in Maryland.

The charge comes after an explosion inside a federal laboratory in Gaithersburg, which investigators believed was triggered by a drug lab in July.

The federal charge was filed against Christopher Bartley Monday. Court records say he attempted to make meth on July 18 — the same date as the explosion — but do not specify where the botched meth lab was found or the circumstances that led federal investigators to Bartley.

Bartley was not in custody Tuesday afternoon. He is set to be in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, at 10 a.m. Friday, according to the U.S. attorney’s office, which declined to comment further.

Bartley resigned July 19 — the day after the explosion at the National Institute of Standards and Technology campus in Gaithersburg, says agency spokeswoman Gail Porter.

He served as a supervisory police officer, says Porter.

“NIST has been fully supporting the ongoing investigation and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as requested,” she writes in an email to WTOP.

A security officer suffered significant burns in the explosion but was treated and quickly released from the hospital. That officer told other responding officers that he had burned himself trying to refill a cigarette lighter.

Investigators found pseudoephedrine, Epsom salt and other materials related to the manufacture of meth at the explosion site.

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