Comments Off on Methamphetamine labs posing major problem in Ohio

CADIZ — Already a dangerously accessible drug, Harrison County Sheriff Joe Myers warned that methamphetamines are easier to make than ever before, and because it can now be manufactured quickly and almost anywhere, it is necessary to raise awareness and recognition of the toxic, explosive and portable chemical labs.

“All the stuff you see on TV shows like “Breaking Bad”, with beakers, bottles and burners, that’s old school,” said Holmes County Deputy Sheriff Joe Mullet. “You could easily make 1 to 4 grams of methamphetamines in a backpack lab. They’re making it in campers, hotel rooms, trailers, car trunks just anywhere you can think of.”

Mullet conducted a slide show briefing on recognition of meth lab equipment after a county worker found several of these portable “shake and bake” labs along side of a road. Another back pack was found at a well site containing a portable lab.

According to Myers there were 113 methamphetamine labs discovered in the county in 2013. That’s in comparison to this year when 160 have been found in the first four months. “It has been an eye opening experience for me.”

“For every meth lab the task force is busting, you may have four to 10 that people don’t know about,” Mullet said methamphetamines are popular among some users because the drug can be made privately using easy-to-find medicines, chemicals and instruments, allowing users to avoid meeting with dealers and keeping them another step away from possible detection by law enforcement.

“This is a most dangerous drug,” Mullet said. “Everything they need to cook this drug is available and none of it is illegal to own. If they’ve got access to a drugstore and a hardware store, they’re in business.”

The problem stems from the process during which the drug is “cooked.” The process requires a volatile chemical process to produce the heat required to cook the meth which can result in fiery explosions and also produces toxic gas like Phosphine.

“Phosphine gas is an unintended, by-product produced during the manufacture of methamphetamine and can be deadly,” Mullet warned. “Due to a possible explosion or exposure to potentially lethal chemicals we recommend not touching anything if you find one of these labs and call 911 immediately. Don’t take a chance on moving it.”

The deputy also warned that these illegal labs are often protected by the criminals with firearms or booby traps.

Once the drug has been produced, the process leaves behind tale tell trash like empty plastic bottles, tubing, cut open lithium batteries, empty containers of drain opener, muriatic acid, sodium hydroxide, instant cold ice packs, coleman fuel cans and anhydrous ammonia.

Pseudoephedrine is the main ingredient and purchases of the cold medicine are monitored to deter criminals. “While possession of these materials is not illegal, we have the charge of assembling chemicals,” said Mullet. “If we can prove intent to manufacture a drug we can charge them with a fourth degree felony.”

“It is a $200 to $300 a day habit,” Mullet explained. “They can cook a batch for $50 and have enough to feed their habit and plenty left over to sell.”

“The telltale signs of what you’re looking for in a meth lab you can see without setting foot in the homes,” he said often the strange chemical odor is what causes a complaint to be phoned in. “If the public gets informed, that goes a long way toward controlling the problem.”

“I would rather drive two hours to check out a false lead than have someone hurt when finding one of these portable labs.”






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