Playing fast and dangerousOfficer discusses new method being used to make methamphetamine
The one-pot method of manufacturing crystal methamphetamine, also known as the “shake-and-bake” method, is quickly replacing more traditional methods of manufacture, Washington police Sgt. Ron See said.
See said the method is much easier and quicker although more dangerous. The methamphetamine can be made in less than an hour using this method. Many of the chemicals used are the same that have been used in other methods, but the difference in the one-pot is a substitute for anhydrous ammonia.
“It has been around for a while, but we only started seeing it here in Washington in the last year,” See, a meth lab-certified officer with over 20 years’ experience, said. “It has become more prevalent now. I think it is what the vast majority of people are using around here now.”
The Tulsa, Okla. Police Department did an experiment in which eight cooks were done. In one of the cases, the bottle being used ignited and remained on fire after the initial burst of heat. One of the main dangers reported is a pressure buildup in the bottle used for the manufacture. The pressure has to be released for the reaction to occur and when released, the chemicals can be blown out of the container. The Tulsa Police Department has reported many fire problems.
See said that the process involves putting highly flammable chemicals in a container — sometimes a glass container is used — to react.
“Basically you have just made a bomb,” he said. “You throw (chemical) and a cupful of water in there. Well, (chemical) and water creates a small explosion. With flammable liquid in there, I don’t know what people expect other than an explosion.”
He said that one of the chemicals used in the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City is used in the one-pot method.
See is not sure of the percentages of times that people making meth in this fashion have had an explosion, but believes it would be high. Since the method had been used, he said that there have not been many people going to the hospital to seek treatment for burns as a result of an explosion. He said that there have been raids in which the remains of a meth lab fire have been found.
Cleaning up after a meth lab is also difficult, he said. In areas where a meth lab has been used, there is a danger of acute exposure to harmful chemicals. Exposure to high concentrations of chemical vapor can cause health problems and even death. Last week, a car was stopped in which meth was allegedly being manufactured using the one-pot method. See said there are so many porous surfaces in a car that will absorb the chemicals.
“In my opinion the only thing you could do is destroy that car,” he said. “I wouldn’t want my family to ever go sit inside that vehicle.”
See said that not much odor is emitted and not as much equipment is needed, making it easy to do in a vehicle. In two instances when meth labs were located in residential homes, the neighbors didn’t know they were inside the home.
“I think the reason they are driving around is because they are hoping there will be less detection,” he said. “They are always mobile so they are not always in one spot. Then, when they are done, any waste is just pitched out the window.”
The Washington School District no longer allows student volunteers to clean ditches for fear they may encounter the remains of a meth lab, See said. He said that the remains of meth labs aren’t being seen in town often.
He said houses are considered hazardous after a meth lab is discovered inside. Any building discovered with a meth lab must undergo meth testing and, if necessary, decontamination before it can be occupied again. According to USA Today, the cost to clean up a house can range from $5,000 to $10,000.
“In both houses we have confirmed as meth labs here in town we have required the owners to go in and have it cleaned and given a clean bill of health from a reputable company,” he said. “Both owners have been very cooperative in that.”
He said signs of a meth lab could include melted plastic bottles or large amounts of starter fluid, camp fuel or ether. He also said local businesses are good about notifying the police if large amounts of these substances are purchased.
If someone notices any signs of a possible meth lab, they are advised to contact the police department at 653-2256 or 653-2107.