File:Méthamphétamine pure.jpg

Methamphetamine crystals

A rolling meth lab is a transportable laboratory used for the illegal production of methamphetamine.[1] Rolling meth labs are often readily moved to a secluded location to be unpacked to synthesize the drug, such as in a public park,[2] or sometimes set up to render the drug while the lab is traveling in a vehicle.[3] This is done to avoid detection when the methamphetamine is being manufactured as strong toxic fumes are given off from the process, which could easily be detected in a residential area. Also, the toxic waste that remains after the synthesis of the drug can be dumped along the roadside or discarded in a forested area.

Transportation hazard[edit | edit source]

The process of "cooking" methamphetamine can be dangerous. The various chemicals often used are not only poisonous, but also flammable and explosive. In November 2001, a rolling meth lab carrying anhydrous ammonia exploded on Interstate 24 in southwest Kentucky.[4] This prompted law enforcement to shut down the freeway, which backed up for miles. Such incidents have not only injured the meth producers, but have injured passing motorists and police officers, who are also exposed to dangerous fumes.[5]

Toxic effects and dangerous remnants[edit | edit source]

File:Meth lab trash central IA.jpg

Trash left from an illegal meth lab. Meth lab waste is extremely hazardous and toxic waste cleanup is a major problem for authorities and property owners. Common waste includes toluene, ammonia, soda bottles, kitty litter, lithium batteries, ether, matches, and pseudoephedrine blister packs.[6]

As with a home lab, the remaining fumes from a crude moving methamphetamine lab can be extremely toxic. The surfaces of the vehicle's interior can be coated or impregnated with the poisonous residue, rendering a vehicle virtually worthless.[7] Vehicles stolen for the single purpose of manufacture of the drug are most often considered contaminated and unusable:[8] Exposure to the by-products of the chemical reaction remaining in the vehicle is frequently too dangerous.[9] A further complication is that the "cooking" methods for meth frequently change, so the proper remediation for a given lab site cannot be assumed from previous known lab methods.[10] Law enforcement Hazmat teams assigned to dispose of the toxic materials must use caution and receive training on a regular basis.

Law enforcement and detection[edit | edit source]

Rolling meth labs can be concealed on or in vehicles as large as 18 wheelers, or transported on something as small as a motorcycle. These labs are more difficult to detect than stationary ones, and can be often hidden among legal cargo on big trucks.[4] Many recent rolling lab discoveries were the result of an officer just "stumbling" onto them.[7] Improved officer training and the use of police K-9 units for checking suspicious vehicles may allow increased detection.[11]

Indicators that further investigation is needed[edit | edit source]

  • Jars containing a clear liquid, with a white or red colored solid coating the bottom, with rubber tubing attached
  • A large number of cans of paint thinner, lye, acetone, lighter fluid, and drain cleaners or acid
  • Strong smell of urine or unusual chemical smells such as ether, acetone, or ammonia
  • Coffee filters containing a white pasty substance, a dark red paste, or small amounts of shiny white crystals
  • Glass cookware or stove pans containing a powdery residue [12]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Staff writer."Methamphetamine, meth-lab assessment and clean-up." Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies Inc. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  2. Staff writer."Methamphetamine and Related Crime: The Impacts of Methamphetamine Abuse." (PDF) Northwest Washington Office of National Drug Control Policy. Published March 2006. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  3. Staff writer."Alleged Rolling Meth Lab Closes Local Ohio Interstate For Hours." Drug Published November 11, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bootie Cosgrove-Mather."Rolling Meth Labs In Vogue – Methamphetamine Makers Turn Vehicles Into Rolling Drug Labs." CBS News. Published July 17, 2002. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  5. Staff writer."Meth Lab Explosion on I-10 Injures Four." WAFB. Published April 29, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  6. Methamphetamine Laboratory Identification and Hazards, U.S. Department of Justice,
  7. 7.0 7.1 Joy Howe."“Moving Meth Lab” Rolls Out New Problems." WJBF. Published November 11, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  8. Kathy Helms-Hughes."Merchants called on to help stamp out meth labs." Elizabethton Star Online. Archives. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  9. Staff writer."Woman's Car Stolen, Used As Rolling Meth Lab." Published November 10, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  10. MDH-MPCA."Clandestine Drug Lab General Cleanup Guidance." (PDF) Minnesota Department of Health & Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. January 1, 2006 Version. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  11. Jerry Manter."Police discover 'rolling meth lab' after possible DUI traffic stop." Created April 2, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.

External links[edit | edit source]

Template:Methamphetamine Template:Drug use

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.