If you thought home meth labs were dangerous, welcome to the new age. In keeping with this fast-paced world, meth cooks have popularized a new “shake and bake” method of manufacturing the dangerous drug. The threat is even higher than conventional meth labs because of the nature of preparation, and the fact that it can be done anywhere. Even an innocent-looking parked car could be the site of a “one-pot” meth lab, a veritable time bomb that could go off with one wrong move.
The One-Pot Method
Rather than a chem lab (or kitchen, or garage, ad infinitum) full of beakers and bottles and other paraphernalia, the one-pot method of manufacturing meth involves just that–one container. Meth chemists mix anhydrous ammonia (or the fertilizer that it comes from), pseudoephedrine tablets, water and a reactive metal (namely, Lithium) into one container.
What remains after the chemical reaction is a crystalline powder that users smoke, snort or inject. The container, which now contains a poisonous brown and white sludge, is then discarded.
This method is gaining popularity because of how fast the process is. The threat, however, is far worse than a typical meth lab. By mixing all the ingredients in one container, a lot of things can go wrong. The bottles that are used often cannot withstand the immense pressure that builds up from the chemical combination. This can cause the container to burst, releasing noxious fumes into the air. The lithium in the fumes are explosive and pose a serious threat to law enforcement and others in the vicinity. Additionally, any oxygen that enters the bottle can produce an explosion.
What You Can Do
If you see anything suspicious going on in a car, in an alleyway, or anywhere else that you suspect may involve the one pot method, do not hesitate to the call law enforcement. If you find old bottles containing an unfamiliar substance, do not pick them up or touch them. Two-liter soda bottles are the most popular way to cook meth this way, and authorities are finding them in ditches, in people’s yards, in dumpsters, and other unexpected places. Meth producers often throw them out the windows of their cars when they are done, so they truly could be anywhere.
The Changing Hues of Meth Production
The statistics on crystal meth production were looking promising for a few years following a number of laws restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine. Lately, however, authorities say that the seizure of meth labs have begun increasing again.
Meth producers have found a number of ways to get around the new restrictions, one of which has been dubbed “smurfing.” Since the 2005 laws allow the sale of two packages of pseudoephedrine, smurfs go from store to store purchasing an amount that is just under the legal limit. After making several purchases, they have enough to make meth.
Meth cooks often hire very innocent-looking people to be their smurfs. There have even been cases of cooks using elderly women to pick up the packages of pseudoephedrine they need.
In many states, authorities are finding more than half of the labs that they seize are using the one pot method.
Why is Meth So Popular
Methamphetamine causes rapid deterioration of tissue and is one of the most poisonous drugs on the market. So why is it so widespread?
Not only is it extremely addictive, it is very easy and inexpensive to make. This makes for big profit and regular customers.
For years, meth labs were tucked away in clandestine labs in the woods or in deep, dark basements. With the new shake and bake method, however, it makes meth production even easier and even cheaper.
Authorities have their work cut out for them.