Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to Recognize a Meth Lab

Vol. 10, No. 2
April 2005
How to Recognize a Meth Lab
Signs of a Meth Lab
Although not in and of themselves conclusive evidence, the following could signal the presence of a meth lab.
Unusual, strong odors (like cat urine, ether, ammonia, acetone, or other chemicals) coming from sheds, outbuildings, other structures, fields, orchards, campsites, or especially vehicles (older model cars, vans) etc.
Possession of unusual materials such as large amounts of over-the-counter allergy/cold/diet medications (containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine), or large quantities of solvents such as Acetone, Coleman Fuel, Toluene, etc.
Discarded items such as ephedrine bottles, coffee filters with oddly-colored stains, lithium batteries, antifreeze containers, lantern fuel cans, propane tanks.
The mixing of unusual chemicals in a house, garage, or barn, or the possession of chemical glassware by persons not involved in the chemical industry.
Heavy traffic during late night hours.
Residences with operating fans in windows in cold weather, or blacked-out windows.
Renters who pay their landlords in cash.
If You Suspect a Meth Lab
Seventy-five percent of meth labs found in North Carolina have been “stumbled upon” (NCDSS, 2005). If you suspect a meth lab take these steps:
Remain calm. Give yourself time to think.
Do NOT approach suspects. They are often armed and may be dangerous.
Do NOT enter the lab area. Discarded containers, waste, and other materials remaining from a meth lab can be highly toxic and dangerous. Do not try to clean up the area. Evidence should remain undisturbed for investigation by law enforcement.
If you are in the lab already, find an excuse to leave immediately. Never use touch or smell to try to identify unknown substances.
Keep a safe distance. Hazardous materials may ignite or the fumes may overcome you (Mason, 2004; NCDSS, 2005).
Promptly notify local law enforcement and follow all NCDSS policies regarding meth labs.
Source: Mason, 2004; Shaw, 2004
References for this and other articles in this issue