Comments Off on Madison, Oswego, and Oneida counties lead the state in meth labs discovered

Oneida, NY — State police responded last year to 45 clandestine drug labs or incidents related to the production of illegal methamphetamine. This year so far, troopers have responded to 127 statewide.

State police in Troop D, which covers the Syracuse area, responded 57 times to illegal drug labs, up from 23 in 2011, troopers said. Two of those, in Canastota and Rome, were discovered when the lab caused fires in homes.


State police display the ingredients used in making methamphetamines. Police want to educate the public so they can recognize signs of illegal labs.


So far this year, troopers responded 32 times to labs or lab waste in Madison County, 11 times in Oneida County, 12 in Oswego County and just once in Onondaga County. Madison, Oswego and Oneida lead the state.

“We’ve seen a large increase in clandestine drug labs,” said Sgt. Doug Wildermuth, of the state police’s Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team.

Most of that increase is due to the “one-pot” or “shake-and-bake” method, Wildermuth said. The method has also led to the increase of hazardous waste, the by-products of meth production, being left in trash cans or beside the road, he said.

Meth production “sounds simple, to some extent,” Wildermuth said.

What’s needed is pseudoephredine, which is available in drug stores as a decongestant, a bottle, solvent, batteries and ice packs, according to troopers.

Everything goes in the bottle, which is shaken, then gas is bled from the bottle.

The process can lead to an explosion, Wildermuth said.

“It’s not a safe process,” he said. “Many times, cooks say, the first set fails.”

“These bottles are not fireproof. Some of these bottles can act like mini flame throwers,” Wildermuth said.

Troopers are seeing an increase of meth manufacturing in residential areas. And that’s why troopers are sharing their knowledge on the waste left behind, so that citizens are aware of what could potentially be hazardous waste.

“What we’re trying to push is that meth production has a lot of hazards that people aren’t aware they’re around,” Wildermuth said.

Citizens should be aware of what meth manufacturing waste looks like and contact police when they see it.

What is usually found are empty containers of acetone, Coleman camping fuel, drain cleaner, muriatic acid, engine starting fluid or gas line anti-freeze. Containers of salt or ice melter, batteries and plastic bottles, usually a Gatorade bottle, troopers said.

The manufacturing process produces 10 times the amount of waste than the amount of drug produced, Trooper Jack Keller said.

The most important ingredient is the decongestant, which the meth cooker will recruit friends or family to buy, said Lt. Mary Clark, of the state police’s Community Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Those recruits are called Smurfs, after the cartoon characters, Clark said. Like the cartoon, they go out in hordes to collect small items, troopers said.

Because pharmacies restrict the amount of decongestant sold to an individual, the
Smurfs are necessary to the meth cook and are often paid in meth, she said.

“It’s not widely distributed,” Clark said. “They make enough for themselves and friends.”

“Yes, the meth they make is for personal use, but because it’s illegal, when they want to get rid (of the waste) they throw it by the road,” Capt. Eric Underhill said.

Every time they clean out a lab or a dump, they have to hire hazardous-material haulers to take it away, Underhill said. That’s at a cost between $2,000 and $5,000 each time, he said.

Anyone who spots material used in drug manufacturing or smells strong chemical smells should contact the local police, troopers said.




Comments are closed.