Authorities ID two bodies found on Delta houseboat thought to be drug lab

Two men found dead in the Delta on a houseboat that authorities said contained a methamphetamine laboratory have been identified by the Solano County Coroner’s Office.

Found on the houseboat, authorities said, were the bodies of Gary Lee Cooper, 72, of Concord and James Eugene McRae, 49, of Martinez.

They were found Monday near Spoonbill Creek, just off the deep water channel, about 6 miles south of Rio Vista. The discovery was made by Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputies who had been looking for two men reported overdue from a fishing trip by a family member.

Solano County authorities took over the case because the boat was found in that agency’s jurisdiction.

Investigators boarded the houseboat and found items that indicated methamphetamine was being consumed and perhaps manufactured on board. An odd odor was detected by deputies, causing them to leave the boat for their safety.

The three deputies suffered no signs of illness from exposure to the smell.

Because of the suspected hazard, the boat was tied overnight in a remote area by the Solano County sheriff’s marine patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard. Agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday boarded the boat and confirmed that it housed a lab with chemicals used to make methamphetamine, authorities said.

The DEA secured the lab chemicals so that the boat could be safely towed to the Coast Guard station in Rio Vista, where the lab components and chemicals were removed, a Solano Sheriff’s Office news release states. DEA personnel also removed the bodies of Cooper and McRae before transferring them to the coroner.

Autopsies will determine the causes of death for the two men.