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Dangerous mobile meth labs becoming all too common around CSRA

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, June 30, 2011

AUGUSTA -- Crystal, glass, ice -- they're all slang for the drug investigators say is becoming all too common around here.

"South Augusta, North Augusta, West Augusta -- we even have methamphetamine use downtown now," said Alonzo Bell, who works for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Division.

He's been here more than a decade, and in that time, he's seen an increase in the number of methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine cases. Nowadays, it's not just being cooked at home.

"We've seen a very high increase in mobile meth labs," he said.

North Augusta Public Safety busted one on Wednesday. Bell said law enforcement officers face a harder task putting the brakes on mobile meth. Making meth a few years ago used to be time-consuming.

"Now, they have a process called the one-pot method, where you can pretty much make the same thing in an hour-and-a-half's time," he told News 12.

He continued, "When they think the law enforcement personnel is after them, they usually either throw it in the woods, or they throw it on the side of the road."

Thus, criminals get away, and you are put at risk.

"We've had people who are doing community service, or the Boy Scouts, actually run up on the mobile meth labs -- they're just tossed on the side of the road," he said.

He says the materials can release gases that can kill you in a matter of seconds, but that's not all.

"The materials in the bottle will get hot, or some materials will react with other materials in the bottle and actually explode," he said.

Also, he says it's possible a mobile meth lab could even explode on the road, putting even innocent drivers at risk.

"It is very dangerous," he told News 12.

Some of the items he says are used in meth labs are coffee filters, funnels, jugs, bottles, rubber tubing, among other things. For a complete list, see the links below.

He says if you do see a lot of the items in one place, you should call emergency officials, because it could be a meth lab.

Methamphetamine Laboratory Identification and Hazards Fast Facts; U.S. Department of Justice

Methamphetamine Fast Facts; U.S. Department of Justice

Crystal Methamphetamine Fast Facts; U.S. Department of Justice