Clandestine Drug Synthesis William H
Chemicals in clandestine drug labs can burn the skin, as happened to this meth lab cook. Salt Lake City Police Department
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This guide addresses the problem of clandestine methamphetamine† labs. U.S. state and local police report that methamphetamine trafficking and abuse has become their most pressing illegal drug problem in recent years, surpassing even crack cocaine.
The clandestine synthesis of methamphetamine (meth) and other illegal drugs is a growing public health and environmental concern. For every pound of meth synthesized there are six or more pounds of hazardous materials or chemicals produced. These are often left on the premises, dumped down local septic systems, or illegally dumped in backyards, open spaces, in ditches along roadways or down
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Cleaning up clandestine methamphetamine labs is an enormously complex, time-consuming and costly undertaking.† Seizing a lab potentially makes a police agency liable for some of the costs of cleaning up on-site hazardous materials. If the lab is operating when police find it, it must first be safely neutralized so that it does not explode or chemically contaminate the environment. Then, the immediate and apparent hazardous-materials must be cleaned up and disposed of safely. Police usually contract with certified hazardous-material disposal companies for this task. Seizing even a small lab can take four or more hours. Storing evidence and conducting laboratory analysis of chemicals are similarly time-consuming and costly. Many jurisdictions are finding that the demands of processing evidence are straining their forensic laboratory resources. Finally, there is the question of a more permanent cleanup (or remediation) of the site to eliminate the long-term hazards posed by residual chemicals. Much is still unknown about such hazards, so we do not fully know how serious the risks of exposure to contamination are. Consequently, many issues regarding the costs and responsibility for cleanup remain unsettled. There are few, if any, established standards for acceptable contamination levels. Complete remediation is seldom done because of the cost, and owners abandon some property rather than undertake that task. Public health and environmental officials, rather than police, will likely have to take the lead on remediation. New legislation or regulations may be required to establish and enforce remediation standards.
By most accounts, clandestine methamphetamine labs can be highly profitable. A modest investment in chemicals, equipment, and labor can yield substantial profits in wholesale or retail methamphetamine sales, although profit estimates vary considerably. Some of this variation depends on the availability of chemicals, the purity of the methamphetamine, the regions of the country where the drug is manufactured and sold, and the size and sophistication of the lab.
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Unlike many other drugs of abuse, barbiturates are rarely produced in clandestine laboratories. Generally, legitimate pharmaceutical products are diverted to the illicit market through forged prescriptions etc., although many barbiturates are also illegally imported from foreign manufacturers.
The average cost of cleaning up the immediate and apparent hazardous materials in an average-sized clandestine methamphetamine lab ranges from $2,500 to $10,000. It can cost up to $150,000 to clean up hazardous materials in the larger super labs. Thorough decontamination of even an average-sized site has been estimated to cost around $50,000. Some statutes allow prosecutors to try to recover the cleanup costs from convicted defendants. Federal and state funding that might be available to help local jurisdictions with immediate cleanup costs typically does not cover long-term remediation costs.
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Clandestine drug synthesis.
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All emergency responders to clandestine methamphetamine labs, police included, must be properly trained and equipped.† The costs of training and equipment are substantial. Many police agencies remain ill-prepared to seize the labs.
Clandestine Drug Labs: High Risk for Fire, Explosion, ..
Although many people can learn to produce small batches of methamphetamine, relatively few develop the skills necessary to manufacture large, high-quality batches. Few clandestine methamphetamine lab cooks have much, if any, formal chemistry training. Most learn from other offenders, including family members, or by following instructions obtained from underground sources. ,† Some lab operators do their own cooking; others hire cooks. Some cooks hire themselves out to several drug trafficking organizations, getting paid in either cash or a portion of the drugs they produce. The average cook in a study of small-scale labs made about four to six batches of methamphetamine per month, producing about 12 pounds of the drug and 77 pounds of toxic waste per year. Most cooks are male, in their 30s, and of middle and lower socioeconomic statuses. Methamphetamine users who also produce or sell the drug are likely to seriously abuse it.
method of synthesis found in these clandestine drug ..
† In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established guidelines and requirements that govern exposure to clandestine drug labs (see the Code of Federal Regulations at 29 C.F.R. 1910.120). The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Coast Guard (1990) have jointly published a document titled , available to police agencies.
Guidelines for the Cleanup of Clandestine Drug …
Methamphetamine production in clandestine drug labs was prevalent in California, and in and around Philadelphia, in the 1980s. Southern California remains the predominant manufacturing region, but production has since spread to many other areas in the United States. Both Mexico and California have “super labs”. Some drug organizations prefer to manufacture methamphetamine in California because they then have to smuggle only the production chemicals across the border, rather than the finished product (the penalties for smuggling methamphetamine are more severe). Methamphetamine manufacturing and abuse are now considered serious problems in nearly all parts of the United States. Police have now seized labs in all 50 states. The National Clandestine Drug Laboratory Database was established in 1999 to monitor lab-related trends.,†
CLANDESTINE DRUG LABORATORY SEIZURES ..
Clandestine labs have manufactured illicit drugs since at least the 1960s, but the problem has become much more widespread in the past 15 years or so, largely because of methamphetamine’s growing popularity. Perhaps the main reason methamphetamine has become so popular is that it is now simpler to produce: detailed instructions for doing so are readily accessible on the Internet, and new manufacturing methods allow production from an assortment of reasonably easy-to-acquire chemicals. Consequently, an increasing number of people have set up labs to produce methamphetamine for their own use. Because methamphetamine is very addictive, the more people who experiment with it, the more people who become dependent on it, and the more demand there is.
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