MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (8/6/13) – Meth in Muhlenberg County continues to be a problem as indicated recently in the local news. The community feels the impact of the meth epidemic in many ways – economically, environmentally, morally, socially, and perhaps in other ways.
Some residents are finding that the drug is sometimes closer to their home or property than they would have initially believed. Because of the popularity of the drug, it may be found in an obvious area. It may also be found in areas that would be completely unsuspected. It has been found in the trunk of cars, in boats, in attics, barns, outbuildings, under sinks, on top of kitchen stoves, in brush piles, huddled next to tombstones, buried in the ground and in nearly every place that one might imagine. It is important for residents to be aware of the possibility that meth may be nearby. This week I will discuss some warning signs that may serve as an indicator of the presence of methamphetamine manufacturing.
When a cook (one who manufactures meth) is putting the lab together, several chemicals will most likely be used. The ingredients used for making meth vary, depending on the cook’s recipe. The method that is most common to this area usually involves anhydrous ammonia, starting fluid, ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, lithium battery acid, and drain opener. Other ingredients may also be used. Starting fluid and anhydrous ammonia produce a pungent odor; even before they are mixed they may be easily detected when not properly contained. Some report that when meth is cooking the smell resembles cat urine, while others simply refer to the smell as a sharp chemical, or gas-type odor. If you smell an unusual odor that you feel might be meth related, it is extremely important for it to be reported to authorities as soon as possible.
In addition to smelling a possible meth lab, it is also very common for residents or property owners to find the remains of a meth lab. Many hunters, fishermen, and other outdoor enthusiasts are also reporting lab site findings. There are several items that might mean meth is being made, or has been made, in an area. Starting fluid cans are often present; while sometimes there may be just one found, oftentimes the cans may be found in piles of three or more. The cans will usually have a hole in the bottom where the fluid was extracted.
The lab itself may simply be a glass or plastic jar; however, sometimes other containers are used as well. The container may hold residue, including crushed ephedrine pills. Most labs will have what cooks call “smoker bottles” somewhere in the vicinity (the bottles may be large jugs or 2-liter soda bottles). The most common bottle in our county seems to be a smaller soda bottle –either 16 or 20 ounces. This bottle or jug will most likely have a tube coming out of the top of it, which is used in the final phases of the manufacturing process. Like many of the findings at a lab site, these bottles should be considered toxic and should not be handled by the general public.
Following is a list of other items you might see at a site where meth is being made. This list is not conclusive: coffee filters, salt, salt shakers, plastic baggies, rubber or plastic tubing, duct tape, propane tanks, black spray paint (sometimes used for concealing equipment), drain opener bottles (often red in color, esp. Liquid Fire brand), plastic gloves, aluminum foil, signs of lithium batteries and/or remains of packages that contained cold/allergy pills.
Meth labs are extremely dangerous, and the remains can be potentially dangerous also. For example, propane tanks or coolers that contain anhydrous ammonia can be very dangerous and should only be handled by trained professionals. If you see what you believe is a meth lab, or the remains of a lab, please contact authorities. You may do so by calling 338-2000. If you would like to see a photo of a meth lab or any of the items mentioned, please go to the Muhlenberg County Sheriff Department’s Facebook page.
Information provided by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
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