Instances of meth labs and methamphetamine trafficking and abuse in the United States are on the increase. As a result, this drug is having a devastating impact on communities across the nation.
Clandestine production, Meth Labs, accounts for nearly all of the methamphetamine trafficked and abused in the United States. Domestic methamphetamine production, trafficking, and abuse are concentrated in the western, southwestern, and Midwestern United States. Methamphetamine is also increasingly available in portions of the South and eastern United States, especially Georgia and Florida. Clandestine laboratories in California and Mexico are the primary sources of supply for methamphetamine available in the United States.
Methamphetamine is clandestinely manufactured in Meth Labs using the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine reduction method. In this process, over-the-counter cold and allergy tablets containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are placed in a solution of water, alcohol, or other solvent for several hours until the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine separates from the tablet. Then, using common household products and equipment listed on the following page and a recipe learned from friends or taken off the Internet, the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine is converted into high quality Methamphetamine in makeshift, illegal labs by untrained individuals.
The state of Oregon requires a prescription to purchase certain over-the-counter medications that can be used to make methamphetamine. Other states are considering similar laws.
Household products contain most of the necessary chemicals to complete the manufacturing process. Certain brands of drain cleaner, for instance, have a high concentration of sulfuric acid. When mixed with table or rock salt, hydrogen chloride gas is produced for use in the final stage of methamphetamine production.
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The hydrogen chloride gas procedure as well as other procedures are extremely dangerous and can cause death or serious injury not only to the individuals making the methamphetamine, but to others who may be living in an adjoining house or apartment.
The chemicals used to make meth are toxic, and the lab operators routinely dump waste into streams, rivers, fields, and sewage systems. The chemical vapors produced during cooking permeate the walls and carpets of houses and buildings, making them uninhabitable. Cleaning up these sites requires specialized training and costs an average of $2,000-$4,000 per site in funds that come out of the already-strained budgets of state and local police.
Common Chemicals Used to Make Methamphetamine:
- Alcohol (Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol)
- Toluene (brake cleaner)
- Ether (engine starter)
- Sulfuric Acid (drain cleaner)
- Red Phosphorus (matches/road flares)
- Salt (table/rock)
- Iodine (teat dip or flakes/crystal)
- Lithium (batteries)
- Trichloroethane (gun scrubber)
- MSM (cutting agent)
- Sodium Metal
- Methanol/Alcohol (gasoline additives)
- Muriatic Acid
- Anhydrous Ammonia (farm fertilizer)
- Sodium Hydroxide (lye)
- Pseudoephedrine (cold tablets)
- Ephedrine (cold tablets)
- Acetone, Cat Litter
Typical Equipment Used to Make Methamphetamine:
- Pyrex or Corning dishes (glass)
- Paper towels
- Coffee filters
- Rubber tubing/gloves
- Gas cans
- Internet documents/notes
- “How to Make Methamphetamine” books
- Aluminum foil
- Propane cylinders (20-lb)
- Plastic storage containers/ice chests
- Measuring cups
- Towels/bed sheets
- Laboratory beakers/glassware