Signs of a meth lab in a residence
• Unusual quantities of household products
• Odd structural modification
• Unusual ventilation or plumbing systems
• Disabled smoke detectors
• Propane bottles with blue or green valves
• Modified coolers
- For a complete list, visit the Web site www.forensic-appl...
A "tweaker" to-do list, highlighted Tuesday in a presentation by a forensic hygienist, underscored the scattered and potentially dangerous mind of someone locked in a cycle of methamphetamine addiction.
At first glance, the list appeared harmless - that is, until reading the last item.
It was a reminder for the user to kill a woman and kidnap another.
"This drug," said Caoimhin Connell, owner and operator of Bailey-based Forensic Applications and a law enforcement officer, "really, truly takes the humanity out of the human. It is so destructive.
"We've never seen anything quite like it."
Connell made three public presentations Tuesday at Mountain West Insurance, 100 E. Victory Way in Craig, on methamphetamine and clandestine methamphetamine laboratories. Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse, a local group designed to help eradicate area meth use, sale and production, sponsored the presentations.
The to-do list, captured in a photograph and shown in a slide show Tuesday, was one of several that illustrated the dark and dangerous side of methamphetamine use and production.
The pictures showed a mix of meth labs, some with elaborate production methods, and others cheap and crude, but all sharing the same trait of being dangerous environments, Connell said.
Potential hazards of meth labs include contamination, explosion, fire, injection and trauma, among many others.
Connell talked about a home, doubling as a drug den, where a 5-month-old baby had died. Traces of methamphetamine were found throughout the house, he said, and on every sample tested.
It is also common, Connell said, to find many meth labs with "booby traps" to deter thieves and authorities serving search warrants. He cited trip-wired explosives, pipe bombs, bottles of acid, rigged firearms and "whatever you can imagine" as traps he's seen employed before.
"Where we've got meth," said Connell, who has worked about 80 meth labs, "we've got weapons. It's just that simple."
He estimated there could be 8,000 to 12,000 meth labs in the state. Their commonality stems from varying size - some labs are small enough to fit into a box and therefore mobile - and the high return against the cheap cost of buying the ingredients.
"Meth labs can be anywhere - cars, porta potties, rental storage sheds," Connell said. "Pretty much anywhere you can put a person, you can put a meth lab."
Another photograph in the presentation, taken in a single aisle at a grocery store, showed how easily materials for meth labs can be acquired. Connell called the photo, which included solvents, lighter fluid, matches, fuel, salt and filters, "one-stop shopping."
Two aisles over, he said, someone could purchase pseudoephedrine tablets and be ready to cook.
"It's amazing," Connell said looking at the photo of the grocery store aisle. "There's a meth lab."
Signs of possible meth labs, Connell said, are unusual quantities of household products, structural modifications that "don't make sense," unusual ventilation or plumbing systems, disabled smoke detectors and burns, among others.
If anyone wants to test a room or area for methamphetamine contamination, Connell suggested dampening a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol, wiping at least a one-square-foot area, in several locations, and sending the sample off to a laboratory for analysis.
"For under $300, you've tested the walls," he said.
For more information about Connell's company and methamphetamine lab recognition, visit www.forensic-applications.com.