Meth lab detection
MOUNT CARMEL - Family And Friends Concerned About the Abuse of Drugs (FFCAD) recently hosted Mount Carmel Chief of Police Todd Owens and Officer Matt Dillman on a presentation of "How to Detect a Meth Lab in Your Neighborhood."
Owens, who has been involved in a number of drug task force operations, showed a video on how smaller methamphetamine lab operators use the "shake-and-bake" method, and how they are susceptible to explosions when the chemicals come in contact with even a small amount of moisture.
He told how many household chemical are used to make meth, a highly addictive drug that stimulates the central nervous system. It can be made in a matter of 20 minutes using plastic bottles.
Owens said some mini-meth labs are portable, transported in the trunks of cars, and that the "shake-and-bake" process can be carried out in a parking lot.
Owens distributed before and after photographs of men and women who have used meth. One shocking photograph showed a beautiful woman in her 30s who, after 2 1/2 years of meth use looked as if she were in her 90s. Her face, her skin wrinkled and sagging, was marked with what looked like canker sores.
Meth use produces unpredictable, sudden violent behavior and hallucinations, and users suffer from paranoia and hallucinations.
What to look for
The officers provide a list of things to look for in detecting possible meth labs. They include:
- Odd chemical smell.
- Trash cans filled with coffee filters but unstained by coffee.
- Empty pseudenephrine packages.
- Empty battery packs.
- Red Devil lye containers.
Owens also said to take note if people are coming and going from a home at all hours and for brief visits.
He said meth-makers may not come out of their homes for days because they are using the drug and also are frantically caught up in their work of making meth. Because of their addiction they get little sleep, and when they become violent they can demonstrate super-human strength, he said.
The Rev. Frank Karwacki, founder of FFCAAD, asked how the contamination of homes with meth labs are handled. Owens indicated the huge cost of clean-up and the lingering affects if not cleaned thoroughly could result in respiratory problems, especially in infants and children.
Rose Marquardt said homes are to be screened for lead poisoning for children and asked Owens if there were any laws that informed the new owner of the home that it had a meth lab in it. Owens said there are no laws to that effect. The group felt there should be for the protection of infants and little children.
Deacon Martin McCarthy asked about the efficiency of the meth lab discovered in 2012 in Mount Carmel. Owens indicated it was highly efficient.
Owens told of new discoveries of bath salts coming in from Pakistan and China and how crystal meth "ice" is coming in from Mexico, which he compared to a version of terrorism that costs many lives in our country.