12 On Your Side: How to spot mobile meth labs

By: Justin Fabiano Email
By: Justin Fabiano Email
12 on your side: Spotting a mobile meth lab (WRDW-TV, June 4, 2012)

12 on your side: Spotting a mobile meth lab (WRDW-TV, June 4, 2012)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, June 4, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- These days, business and industries are changing. Companies are economizing, making their goods at a cheaper price, all to offset cost.

The same is true for illegitimate business like manufacturing methamphetamine. Dealers are economizing, and in the process, their labs are getting smaller.

"It's not something that you would think about when people say a meth lab," said Cpt. Troy Elwell with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

You wouldn't think about it as a meth lab, because the lab can fit inside a bookbag.

"It's called the 'one pot' or the 'shake and bake' method," Elwell said. "It can be hidden in a backpack."

It can fit inside a book bag because all the ingredients are fairly common household products, often found at hardware stores. Things like drain cleaner, camp fire fluid, AA batteries, duct tape and a soda bottle are used to make the product.

"It makes it hard for us to recognize," Elwell said.

He says they're hard to recognize because unless you can smell the fumes coming from the book bag, you would never know.

However, Aiken County deputies have run into the newer, mobile meth labs on Justin Gray's street.

"Over the past two months [police have had] a lot of activity," he said.

"The process contains very volatile chemicals," Elwell said, "They're discarded on the side of the road most of the time."

That poses a problem for people like Gray.

"I've never even heard of anything like that," Gray said of the meth labs.

The meth is cooked inside a soda bottle or Gatorade bottle. If the maker becomes suspicious of police, it's very easy for them to throw away, and to people like Gray, it just looks like trash; but it's trash you don't want to pick up. All it takes for the lab to become active again and potentially explode is for someone to pick up the bottle and open it.

"That's awful," Gray said.

Deputies agree. That's why they want you to be able to spot one of these labs.

"Those [labs] are something you don't want to mess with," Elwell said. "You want to call your local law enforcement."

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