NewsCrime Desk

Ballyfermot's crystal meth nurse is Breaking Bad

Crime DeskBy Alan Sherry
John Denedict Butalid de Lara
John Denedict Butalid de Lara

A NURSE who led a Breaking Bad double life as a crystal meth producer bolted when the Sunday World confronted him this week.

John Benedict Butalid de Lara, (45) originally from the Philippines but living in Ballyfermot, Dublin, was found guilty of six counts of professional misconduct by the Nursing and Midwifery Board after he ordered bottles of Sudafed in the names of several colleagues. 

Gardaí later arrested him with a quantity of crystal meth, which can be made with the active ingredient in Sudafed – pseudoephedrine – and other ingredients. 

In a case that drew parallels with the U.S. TV show Breaking Bad, the inquiry heard how de Lara was considered a model employee while working as a staff nurse at the

Royal Hospital Donnybrook from 2003 to 2014.

Nicholas Mallari, one of the nurses whose name de Lara used to obtain the Sudafed, said he was shocked to find out de Lara was living a double life as a respected nurse and crystal meth producer.   

Referring to Mr de Lara, Mr Mallari said: “He’s a nice person. He’s a good colleague. He’s a good nurse.”

He was let go after his employers heard news he had been arrested for possession of crystal meth. 

The Sunday World tried to speak to de Lara following the inquiry in Blackrock on Friday. However, he literally ran away to avoid questioning. 

We spoke to a pal of de Lara’s who told us: “He’s not allowed talk.” 

John Denedict Butalid de Lara

De Lara had also declined to give evidence during the inquiry. 

When he was caught, de Lara tried to claim he was sending the Sudafed home to the Philippines. 

But in reality it was used to make Crystal Meth. 

He was given the Probation Act after being caught with €144 worth of the drug in March 2014. As the amount was so small he was only charged with possession of the drug and not sale or supply. 

Mr de Lara’s barrister John McGuigan said it was not proved his client was dealing crystal meth. He added: “He’s not an addict and the times he used crystal meth had no effect on his duties as a nurse.”

He added no charge was pursued by the DPP in relation to sale or supply of the drug.  However, this fitness to practice inquiry heard evidence from a garda who suspected

Mr de Lara was involved in the sale or supply of crystal meth. 

The Nursing and Midwifery Board committee said they were satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Mr de Lara was involved in the sale or supply of the drug. 

Sources told the Sunday World that while crystal meth production is not widespread in Ireland, there are several operations mimicking unassuming academic Walter White from Breaking Bad with their own home-grown operations. 

There are believed to be some small-time Eastern European criminals making the drug in Ireland. 

In recent case in Dublin, gardaí found a Lithuanian man in possession of the drug and found he had print-outs of how to make the drug.

“It crops up now and again,” said a source. “It’s not a major problem here like in other countries, but there are a few small 
operations.”

Sanctions for Mr De Lara will be determined by the Nursing and Midwifery Board at a later date. 

After drugs officers contacted them, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) issued a notice to its members asking them to report suspicious activity. 

The PSI said: “Intelligence in possession of An Garda Síochána indicates that certain criminal networks involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine are sourcing pseudoephedrine by visiting pharmacies in certain areas or towns. 

“The Gardaí request pharmacists’ assistance in increasing vigilance in and encourage pharmacists to report any suspicious activity.”