Recipe for disas­ter

Clan­des­tine meth labs spell trou­ble, pose ex­treme dan­ger

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - HOT ONLINE - BY NANCY MACPHEE

Alone, each item is rel­a­tively harm­less.

To­gether, the house­hold items form a recipe for po­ten­tial disas­ter, pro­duc­ing an il­le­gal sub­stance that gives an in­stant high and can be lethal.

Cpl. Andy Cook, head of the Prince District JFO Drug Unit, places the items on a ta­ble in an in­ter­view room at the East Prince RCMP de­tach­ment.

They aren’t those seized dur­ing the search last week of a Sum­mer­side home, where a meth lab was dis­man­tled. Th­ese are what Cook uses to teach of­fi­cers what to look for when it comes to un­cov­er­ing a smallscale meth op­er­a­tion.

There are things like drain cleaner con­tain­ing sul­fu­ric acid, plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles, lithium bat­ter­ies, a coffee grinder, cold and si­nus med­i­ca­tion, camp­fire fuel and over-the-counter cold com­presses.

To­gether, they are used to make metham­phetamine. And the drug’s recipe, said Cook, can be eas­ily found on­line with a quick search and a few clicks of a mouse.

“It is all over the In­ter­net, known as the one-pot method,” said Cook. He de­tailed the steps. The meth­ods used to pro­duce the drug are dan­ger­ous, with dry in­gre­di­ents ground and mixed, with am­mo­nium ni­trate, lye, a sol­vent and lithium added.

“The lithium it­self is flammable when it comes in con­tact with wa­ter and it can burn your skin,” said Cook.

Dry and wet in­gre­di­ents are com­bined in a two-litre plas­tic bot­tle, caus­ing a chem­i­cal re­ac­tion, with the con­tents spin­ning around like a tor­nado in a bot­tle.

“This builds up pres­sure in here from the am­mo­nium gas that is pro­duced. This ex­pands. This is not built as a pres­sure ves­sel so of­ten what they are see­ing with th­ese backpack meth labs or one-pot meth labs is they rup­ture,” said Cook, a plas­tic soda bot­tle in hand. “That gets spewed out into an un­con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment and you end up with fire, some­times ex­plo­sion.”

“It is al­most like a flame thrower... It sprays out and it is on fire.”

The items used in “backpack meth labs” can be eas­ily packed up and moved.

The drug only takes hours to make. What is even­tu­ally pro­duced is the re­sult of a mix­ture of toxic chem­i­cals most peo­ple would never willingly in­gest.

“It is cer­tainly noth­ing that you would want to put in your body,” said Cook.

NANCY MACPHEE/TC ME­DIA

Hun­dreds of ‘speed’ tablets were found hid­den in a di­a­per in a Sum­mer­side home dur­ing a search last Thurs­day.

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