The U.S. methamphetamine epidemic has been on the rise for the past few decades. The DEA reported that more than 12,000 small capacity production labs were discovered in the last year alone. It is estimated that only a third of these illegal production facilities are actually reported and discovered. The fact of the matter is, these drug labs, also called clandestine drug laboratories, can be found just about anywhere. Criminals cook meth in RVs, garages, but often turn entire properties into meth producing factories. In fact, your next-door neighbor might be one of these “cooks” because it doesn’t matter if you live in an up-scale, suburban neighborhood or a remote RV park, labs can be literally everywhere.
Why is this important for you?
Aside from the fact that criminal activity in your area can cause all kinds of problems for you and your family, Clandestine drug labs disperse all kinds of dangerous chemicals into the air and the ground and are a serious health hazard to everything around them. This is why it is of the utmost importance to report any suspicious activity that might point towards the existence of clandestine drug labs in your neighborhood.
But how can you know if there’s a legal drug-producing facility in your area?
Luckily, these labs leave a lot of clues behind, and that’s why today’s article is all about the 7 telltale signs of a drug lab and how to notice them. But first, a short introduction into clandestine labs.
What Is a Clandestine Lab?
Small capacity meth production labs are far from most people imagine them to be. They are usually improvised kitchens run by amateur chemists looking to make some money producing highly-sought out drugs using only common household ingredients such as sulfuric acid, anhydrous ammonia, lithium, and table salt. During the process of producing meth, toxic and flammable particles are released into the air, coating the walls of the lab, as well as all the surfaces and furniture. This means that even if a drug lab has been disassembled and moved, the waste and the residue left behind will continue to pollute the area until the entire property has been thoroughly washed and cleaned by skilled professionals.
Here are some of the clues left behind by meth drug labs:
1. Unusual Odors
The first telltale signs of a drug lab in your vicinity are strong and pungent odors coming from a “shady” looking house. The powerful smell resembles rotten eggs, cat urine, and most of all, ammonia.
2. Excessive Amounts of Trash
Meth-producing facilities create a lot of trash during the manufacturing process of this illegal drug. If you notice excessive amounts of chemical containers and discarded medication packages that use to contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, chances are you’re dealing with a meth lab in your area. You’ll also typically see a large amount of discarded lithium batteries, acetone, hydrogen peroxide, safety gloves, coffee filters, and rags.
3. Suspicious-Looking Houses
Another visual feature common for improvised clandestine labs is the decaying and abandoned-like look of the facade. These labs usually feel unwelcoming and secretive. They are also often run by occasional users of the drug which are often unable to take care of the property. It’s worth noting that this is not a general rule and that there have been reports of pristine-looking houses being busted as well-concealed drug labs, so don’t be surprised if your local drug manufacturer has a well-manicured lawn.
Drawn curtains and blacked-out windows are also a revealing sign that something fishy is going on. People who cook meth often dump the chemical waste onto their lawn, scorching the grass and leaving dead patches. They also get rid of toxic waste by burying it into the ground so if you notice a lot of fresh and loose dirt, you might want to alert the authorities.
4. Odd-Looking Plumbing and Diverted Electrical Lines
A typical clandestine lab setup features improvised plumbing, ventilation, and electrical wiring that makes the manufacturing process easier, safer, and faster. Meth cooks configure the plumbing system to make it easier for them to dump the toxic waste. They also install additional ventilation so that they can vent out dangerous chemical fumes more efficiently.
5. Frequent Visitors at Odd Times
Late-night visits by a large number of visitors that are gone faster than they arrived is a sure sign of something suspicious going on in your area. People with paranoid faces, wearing hoodies, acting suspiciously while they are going in and out of the house usually means there is drug activity happening on the property.
6. Excessive Security Features
Criminals that are operating a meth-producing facility love keeping their investment safe. They usually install a large number of alarms, security cameras, and even motion sensors in order to know ahead of time if there is an unwanted trespasser on their property. Police have reported that they almost always encounter some kind of booby traps when busting a meth lab so they always proceed with caution.
7. Unfriendly Neighbors
While a secretive or unfriendly demeanor does not have to mean your neighbors are participating in criminal activity, it should be taken as a red flag, especially when combined with other clues from this list. Remember not to be too nosy as most meth cooks are armed and dangerous, so instead of taking actions into your own hands, we suggest reporting any suspicions to your local authorities.
For more articles related to the dangers of meth, make sure to visit our blog section. If you’ve recently bought a property that used to be a drug lab, feel free to contact us and we’ll make it habitable again. Spaulding Decon is a certified cleaning service that specializes in restoring properties to their previous state. Give us a call today and find out how we can help you out!