Comments Off on ‘The Mess Of Methamphetamine: What Happens To A Meth House?

FORT THOMPSON, S.D.Meth use is a problem that’s been glamorized in the hit television show, “Breaking Bad.” And it’s an epidemic that may exist right in your own backyard.

Meth is a terrifying thing, but what may be even scarier is what’s left behind after cooking it. The CDC says meth labs can cause serious health issues for anyone exposed, including respiratory and neurological problems.

Who really knows what happens behind closed doors.

“It really can be deceiving and it really could be anywhere where somebody is cooking or making meth,” said Officer Sam Clemens, Sioux Falls Police Dept.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, there were 19 methamphetamine lab incidents in South Dakota in 2014.

Officer Sam Clemens says meth use has always be an issue in Sioux Falls. The only thing that’s changed is how the drug is made.

“In the past what we saw was big meth labs and people were producing a big quantity of that doing so using a lot of different chemicals,” said Officer Clemens.

Sioux Falls Police say the new trend is meth in smaller quantities. Meth makers are using pop bottles.

But…what happens after a meth lab is discovered? That’s up to the property owner.

“There are no laws that say that we have to condemn a place or board a place up,” said Officer Clemens. “It’s really just that recommendation and trying to make that house as safe as you can after somebody has been making meth.”

KDLT News traveled 167 miles to Fort Thompson to speak with an expert on cleaning meth houses.

“I think it’s tedious work to go into a unit or any home to clean for meth,” said Ronnette Kirkie, Fort Thompson Resident.

Ronnette Kirkie has been cleaning up meth houses for two years. She works with contracting companies to clean up 12 to 15 units at Crow Creek Housing.

“It basically just started out from a report that some syringes and stuff were found in the unit,” said Kirkie. “And there’s speculation that there might be some meth use.”

It may look like an ordinary home. But step inside and it’s a different story.

“You’d see the bottles, you’d see the light bulbs and syringes,” said Kirkie. “The smell was different.”

Kirkie says the residue from cooking or smoking meth is “basically invisible” in a home. That’s why cleaning companies like Santi-Kleen based in Marion, South Dakota are called into action.

“It was very tedious and they had to wear haze mat suits too,” said Kirkie.

Crews use trash bags, paper towels and chemicals to clean up meth houses.

“Basically it was labor, a lot of labor,” said Kirkie.

Kirkie says it can cost as much as $24,000 to clean up a meth lab. In a worst case scenario, the home could be a total loss.

“You had to have a solid waste truck there to take care of the debris, the garbage and whatever was being taken out that was being thrown away,” said Kirkie. “You couldn’t keep a lot of the stuff.”

Everything that belonged to the family is now ruined…except for the few photographs that will serve as a reminder of life before meth.

In South Dakota, state law requires prior meth-related activity in a property to be disclosed.

Last year, police uncovered more than 9,000 meth labs in the United States. Of the state’s that surround South Dakota, Iowa had the most meth labs by far with 141. Minnesota only had eight.

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