A new method of manufacturing methamphetamine, designed to get around laws restricting sale of the ingredients needs to make meth, is spreading across the country and law enforcement officials claim the new “shake and bake” process is even more dangerous than the old makeshift meth labs.
One wrong move and the concoction can explode into a large fireball, authorities say.
Also known as the “one pot” method, shake and bake meth is produced in a two-liter soda bottle. A few cold pills are mixed with common, but noxious, household chemicals and produce enough meth for the user to get a few hits.
Smaller, Mobile Meth Labs
The old meth labs required hundreds of pseudoephedrine pills, containers heated over open flames and cans of flammable liquids. The cooking process created foul odors making the labs difficult to conceal. They often sparked explosions.
The shake and bake method requires only a few pseudoephedrine pills, circumventing laws passed restricting the sale of large quantities of over-the-counter decongestants, cold and allergy remedies.
The new method requires little room. All of the necessary items can be carried in a backpack, making the process mobile. Drug users are making meth while driving around in their cars and throwing the used plastic bottles, containing a poisonous brown and white sludge, along the highway.
Extremely Dangerous Method
But the shake and bake method is extremely dangerous. If the bottle is shaken the wrong way, of if any oxygen gets inside of it, or if the cap is loosened too quickly, the bottle can exploded into a giant fireball.
If the old clandestine meth labs caught fire, the cookers would just run away. But with the shake and bake method, they are actually holding the bottle when it explodes. Police in Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma and other states have linked dozens of flash fires — some of them fatal — to meth manufacturing.
Dangerous to the Public
Police departments across the nation are training officers how to handle the new mobile labs if they encounter them during traffic stops.
“The mixture can burst into flames when exposed to oxygen, making it extremely dangerous for an officer who unscrews the lid of what may look like an ordinary soda bottle,” said Kansas City Police Sgt. Tim Witcig. “They have to know what to do so it doesn’t explode on them.”
Sudden Increase in Meth Labs
After years of declining numbers of meth labs being busted by law enforcement, due to the laws restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, seizures are suddenly increasing again.
“I would say about 85% of our labs so far this year have been the one pot or shake and bake method,” said Lt. Tony Saucedo of the Michigan State Police.
Saucedo said the new shake and bake labs put everyone in danger, because they can explode while the drug users are driving around, putting other drivers in danger. The old labs were usually concealed in secluded or rural areas because of the odors, but the new “labs” can be anywhere.
Don’t Touch Discarded Bottles
The discarded soda bottles used in the process are also dangerous. “We’re finding them in ditches, we’re finding them in people’s yards, we’ve found stuff in dumpsters,” Saucdo said.
“It simplified the process so much that everybody’s making their own dope,” Kevin Williams, sheriff of Marion County, Alabama, told reporters. “It can be your next-door neighbor doing it. It can be one of your family members living downstairs in the basement.”
Authorities suggest that people, who find discarded bottles containing an unknown mixture leave them alone, do not open them or pick them up. Call the police and let them investigate to see if it’s a danger.