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Methamphetamine is a toxic, addictive, stimulant that affects many areas of the central nervous system. The drug is often made in clandestine laboratories from relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. It is being used by diverse groups, including young adults who attend raves, in many regions of the country.

  • Available in many forms, methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested.

  • Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in beverages.

  • Methamphetamine is not sold in the same way as many other illicit drugs; it is typically sold through networks, not on the street.

  • Methamphetamine use is associated with serious health consequences, including memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, and potential cardiac and neurological damage.

  • Methamphetamine abusers typically display signs of agitation, excited speech, decreased appetite, and increased physical activity levels.

  • Methamphetamine is neurotoxic. Methamphetamine abusers may have significant reductions in dopamine transporters.

  • Methamphetamine use can contribute to higher rates of transmission of infectious diseases, especially hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

~ National Institute On Drug Abuse, Community Drug Alert Bulletin, December 1999


Methamphetamine Laboratory:  Identification and Hazards Fast Facts


What is a methamphetamine laboratory?


A methamphetamine laboratory is an illicit operation that has the apparatus and chemicals needed to produce the powerful stimulant methamphetamine. (See list of products and equipment below.) These laboratories vary dramatically in size and output. Large laboratories, known as super labs, produce 10 pounds or more of the drug per production cycle. Much smaller laboratories -- sometimes called box labs -- produce as little as an ounce or less of the drug and are small enough to fit in a box or backpack.


How common are they?


Methamphetamine laboratories are increasingly prevalent throughout the United States. In 2002 more than 7,500 laboratories were seized in 44 states, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) El Paso Intelligence Center National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System. While methamphetamine production remains most common in the western portion of the United State - particularly California - seizures of methamphetamine laboratories in the west central part of the country have become more commonplace.


Where are methamphetamine laboratories found?


Methamphetamine laboratories may be located virtually anywhere. Laboratories have been found in secluded rural areas, as well as in residential, commercial, and industrial districts. Law enforcement officers have seized laboratories at private residences, commercial properties, hotels and motels, and outdoor locations. Mobile laboratories have been discovered in automobiles, boats, and luggage.


What are the signs that a methamphetamine laboratory may be present?


The following, often in combination, may indicate the presence of a methamphetamine laboratory:

  • Unusual odors (ether, ammonia, acetone, or other chemicals)

  • Excessive amounts of trash, particularly chemical containers (see list of products and equipment below), coffee filters or pieces of cloth that are stained red, and duct tape rolls

  • Curtains always drawn or windows covered with aluminum foil or blackened on residences, garages, sheds, or other structures

  • Evidence of chemical waste or dumping

  • Frequent visitors, particularly at unusual times

  • Extensive security measures or attempts to ensure privacy (no trespassing or beware of dog signs, fences, large trees, or shrubs)

  • Secretive or unfriendly occupants

  • Renters who pay in cash


 What hazards are associated with them?

The chemicals used to produce methamphetamine are extremely hazardous. Some are highly volatile and may ignite or explode if mixed or stored improperly. Fire and explosion pose risks not only to the individuals producing the drug but also to anyone in the surrounding area, including children, neighbors, and passersby.

Even when fire or explosion does not occur, methamphetamine production is dangerous. Simply being exposed to the toxic chemicals used to produce the drug poses a variety of health risks, including intoxication, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, lack of coordination, pulmonary edema, serious respiratory problems, severe chemical burns, and damage to internal organs.

  • Inhalation. Inhaling chemical vapors and gases resulting from methamphetamine production causes shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain. Exposure to these vapors and gases may also cause disorientation, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, lack of coordination, pulmonary edema, chemical pneumonitis, and other serious respiratory problems when absorbed into the body through the lungs.

  • Skin Contact. The chemicals used to produce methamphetamine may cause serious burns if they come in contact with the skin.

  • Ingestion. Toxic chemicals can be ingested either by consuming contaminated food or beverages or by inadvertently consuming the chemicals directly. (Young children present at laboratory sites are at particular risk of ingesting chemicals.) Ingesting toxic chemicals--or methamphetamine itself--may result in potentially fatal poisoning, internal chemical burns, damage to organ function, and harm to neurological and immunologic functioning.

In addition, methamphetamine production threatens the environment. The average methamphetamine laboratory produces five to seven pounds of toxic waste for every pound of methamphetamine produced. Operators often dispose of this waste improperly, simply by dumping it near the laboratory. This can cause contamination of the soil and nearby water supplies.


What can I do?

If you suspect that someone in your neighborhood is operating a methamphetamine laboratory, report your concerns to the local sheriff's office or police department immediately. For your own safety, do not investigate the suspected laboratory or confront the occupants. In addition to the hazards discussed above, many laboratories are equipped with security devices or booby traps that could cause serious injuries or death.


Methamphetamine:  Chemical Hazards


Pseudoephedrine ~ Ingestion of doses greater than 240 mg causes hypertension, arrhythmia, anxiety, dizziness, and vomiting. Ingestion of doses greater than 600 mg can lead to renal failure and seizures.


Acetone/ethyl alcohol ~ Extremely flammable, posing a fire risk in and around the laboratory. Inhalation or ingestion of these solvents causes severe gastric irritation, narcosis, or coma.


Freon ~ Inhalation can cause sudden cardiac arrest or severe lung damage. It is corrosive if ingested.


Anhydrous ammonia ~ A colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating odor. Inhalation causes edema of the respiratory tract and asphyxia. Contact with vapors damages eyes and mucous membranes.


Red phosphorus ~ May explode as a result of contact or friction. Ignites if heated above 260 degrees Celsius. Vapor from ignited phosphorus severely irritates the nose, throat, lungs, and eyes.


Hypophosphorous acid ~ Extremely dangerous substitute for red phosphorus. If overheated, deadly phosphine gas is released. Poses a serious fire and explosion hazard.


Lithium metal ~ Extremely caustic to all body tissues. Reacts violently with water and poses a fire or explosion hazard.


Hydriodic acid ~ A corrosive acid with vapors that are irritating to the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. If ingested, causes severe internal irritation and damage that may cause death.


Iodine crystals ~ Gives off vapor that is irritating to respiratory system and eyes. Solid form irritates the eyes and may burn skin. If ingested, causes severe internal damage.


Phenylpropanolamine ~ Ingestion of doses greater than 75 mg causes hypertension, arrhythmia, anxiety, and dizziness. Quantities greater than 300 mg can lead to renal failure, seizures, stroke, and death.


~ DEA Office of Diversion Control




Products Used in Methamphetamine Production



Alcohol (isopropyl or rubbing)

Anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer)

Ephedrine (cold medications)

Ether (engine starter)

Hydrochloric acid (pool supply)

Iodine (flakes or crystal)

Kitty liter

Lithium (batteries)

Methanol (gasoline additive)

MSM (nutritional supplement)

Pseudoephedrine (cold medications)

Red phosphorus (matches or road flares)

Salt (table or rock)

Sodium hydroxide (lye)

Sodium metal

Sulfuric acid (drain cleaner)

Toluene (brake cleaner)

Trichloroethane (gun cleaner)

~ National Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Department of Justice



Equipment Used In Methamphetamine Production


Aluminum foil




Coffee filters


Gas cans

Ice chests

Jugs and bottles

Laboratory beakers and glassware

Measuring cups

Pails and buckets

Paper towels

Plastic storage containers

Propane cylinders

Rubber gloves

Rubber tubing



Tempered glassware


Towels and bed sheets

~ National Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Department of Justice




  • Methamphetamine is not the biker drug it was in the 1960's. Today's meth is much stronger and contains more harsh chemicals.

  • The number of high school students using methamphetamine continues to rise.

  • Young girls are drawn to meth for the ability to lose weight fast. Meth literally eats away at body muscle and body fat.

  • 40% of meth users are female.

  • Methamphetamine can severely alter the way the brain functions. It decreases dopamine (the feel good chemical in the brain).

  • Short-term effects include paranoia, loss of appetite, severe weight loss, aggressive behavior, and acne or body sores.

  • Long-term effects include depression, lung and kidney damage, tooth decay, convulsions, putrid body oder, and paranoid-schizophrenia.

  • Meth can be smoked, injected, snorted, or taken orally.

  • Methamphetamine comes from two sources: (1) importation from Mexico and the southwest border states; and (2) local labs producing "home-grown" meth.

  • Many of the ingredients in meth are poisonous ~ gasoline, ether, lye, rat killer, red phosphorous, and iodine.

  • The initial "high" from meth will last 8 to 24 hours. The "crash" will last up to three days.

  • Withdrawal symptoms will last 30-90 days.

  • Meth is also called crystal, ice, crank, and speed.

  • A "recipe" for meth is available on the Internet. It sounds simple; however, the chemicals are volatile and explosive. People have generated explosions and have died while attempting to make meth.

  • Meth labs can be found in homes, motel rooms, even in the trunk of cars.

~ From the Midwest HIDTA, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area


How does the methamphetamine problems in Garland County affect you.

  • Robberies, burglaries, forgeries, thefts are all increased due to the addiction of methamphetamine

  • Your tax dollars go to clean up lab sites

  • Your tax dollars go toward investigating child neglect & abuse

  • Your property value decreases

  • The economic costs affect everyone. Even if you live in an area of the City or County where no meth labs or dealers reside, you’re affected.  Your taxes go toward additional resources for social services, treatment, prevention, research and law enforcement.


Secondary Meth Lab Clean Up


    If you are wanting to test a rent house or residence that you suspect drugs have been "cooked" in, clean up a residence that you know drugs have been "cooked" in or if you are a new home buyer that wants to test before purchasing, you can contact the company listed below. Note: The County of Garland, Sheriff Sanders nor any of the Sheriff's Office employees or associates have any ties or claims to this company. It is listed here only as a resource for the benefit of interested parties.


Safety & Environmental Associates, Inc.
Little Rock, AR.

Check out the links below for additional information

If you know of any possible meth lab locations in Garland County you may contact your local Drug Task Force at 321-9394, leave an anonymous recorded message on the Sheriff’s Department Crime Line at 622-3674 or submit an anonymous narcotic submission form and your information will be followed up on as soon as possible.

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