Crime & Courts Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Little needed for meth lab

Makers pare down process

  • Follow Crime & courts

Cooking methamphetamine once required a high school knowledge of chemistry and a place big enough to house all the equipment.

Now you just need a jar and some household products.

On Monday, investigators discovered on Coleman Street what they called one of the biggest meth labs in recent years. But the trend among meth manufacturers is increasingly moving away from elaborate setups and more toward small operations.

The natural evolution of the drug's life cycle is one reason for the so-called shake 'n' bake method.

Meth users have experimented over the years and discovered more efficient ways to manufacture the drug. Another reason for the shift is that Georgia and other states have cracked down on the quantity of pseudoephedrine someone can buy at one time.

Pseudoephedrine is the main ingredient in meth and many cough and cold medicines, such as Sudafed.

Georgia has a tracking law that limits individual purchases to nine grams a month, or about three packages; it also requires people to show a government-issued ID when they buy it.

That has cut down on how much meth can be cooked at one time, but it hasn't stamped out the drug's manufacture.

Instead, meth users employ a method called "smurfing," so named because the pills resemble the little red berries that the cartoon characters craved. Several meth users pile into a car and drive around to different pharmacies, each buying their limit. Fake IDs further cloud the paper trail.

The resulting stockpile of pseudoephedrine doesn't produce much meth, but it's enough for a few hits with some left over for sale -- usually just enough cash for the raw ingredients.

"It's enough to continue the cycle," said Richmond County sheriff's Sgt. Allan Rollins, who works in the narcotics division.

The homemade meth isn't near the same quality as the high-grade drugs imported from Mexico, but it's good enough for a high. It's the difference between expensive sneakers bought at the mall and a cheap pair of shoes purchased at a discount store, Sgt. Rollins explained.

"They both do the job, but one is going to fall apart after six months and probably hurt my feet a lot more," he said.

The risk, however, does not get smaller with fewer ingredients. There's still a fire hazard in cooking small batches of meth. A flash fire in a jar can cause serious burns. And the small batches still create a leftover toxic sludge that's classified as hazardous material.

Rollins said the number of meth labs busted by the sheriff's office "comes in spurts" and an uptick could be coming in 2010.

In 2008, the sheriff's office dismantled 14 meth labs; in 2009, 20; to date, the sheriff's office has dismantled five or six, according to Rollins.

What's in it?

Here's a partial ingredient list for methamphetamine:

- Gasoline additives

- Rubbing alcohol

- Ether (starter fluid)

- Paint thinner

- Acetone

- Chloroform

- Camp stove fuel

- Anhydrous ammonia

- Toluene (found in brake cleaner)

- Red Devil lye

- Drain cleaner


Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
stovall st
stovall st 04/24/10 - 05:15 am
Helluva mix!

Helluva mix!

mary dits
mary dits 04/24/10 - 10:29 am
um, a meth recipe? kids,

um, a meth recipe? kids, don't do it. it's unhealthy and illegal and dangerous. even if it is incomplete, posting a list just seems kind of thought or dare provoking. remember that kids try stuff. i think this is a bad idea sparker. seriously, kids, nobody wants to kiss a meth head. except maybe in wasilla, alaska, and you don't wanna have to live there.

Runner46 04/24/10 - 11:48 am
The ingredients alone are

The ingredients alone are enough to pickle your body permanently. How can anyone put that in their body? It's like a gunshot to the head.

UncleBill 04/24/10 - 01:45 pm
I think the volatile

I think the volatile ingredients are mostly cooked out, or evaporate, but I'm not exactly clear on how it works either. In any event it looks like a recipe for disaster. How to make methamphatamine was not in my high school chemistry class. (Of course that is now what some would consider a long time ago.)

corgimom 04/24/10 - 05:38 pm
"Cooking methamphetamine once

"Cooking methamphetamine once required a high school knowledge of chemistry and a place big enough to house all the equipment."

In high school, slacker kids that were absolute losers- who didn't even know how to spell chemistry, let alone know anything about it- used to go out to the desert and cook it.

And that was over 35 years ago.

willow 04/25/10 - 08:49 pm
Seems the law enforcement

Seems the law enforcement should be patroling the problem neighborhoods for the druggies hanging out and driving in and out of the area's (which are fairly obvious to anyone with there eyes open)??? Is that so hard of a thing to do??? Stopping and simply shooting the breeze the locals about any drug activity they have seen or witnessed in the area??? Why wait for another murder to step thing up and actually put up an effort of any kind???

RoadkiII 04/26/10 - 05:13 am
I thought my cigarettes had

I thought my cigarettes had bad ingredients.

Atlanta native
Atlanta native 04/26/10 - 04:27 pm
Let's hope that potential

Let's hope that potential meth manufacturers don't read newspapers.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs