September 10, 2012
Just a few years ago, South Central Minnesota had no recorded methamphetamine labs. Drug laws that had been passed in 2005 effectively shut down meth labs in our area.
But now, KTOE News has learned, a new way of making methamphetamine has led to a dramatic resurgence of meth labs… ortable, mobile meth kitchens that are easy for meth manufacturers to set up and use… and very difficult for drug enforcement agents to find and shut down.
Veteran drug agent, Ginger Peterson, with the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force tells KTOE News: "In the past two years we're seeing an increase in the number of labs in the four county area including Blue Earth, Martin, Nicollet, and Watonwan Counties. Our task force this year has already seen four to six. Three years ago we had zero."
Agent Peterson says local methamphetamine manufacturers have learned a new way to make meth, called the "one pot" method, also called "shake n bake," that has been a problem in other states, but not so much here, until now.
With the one pot method, Peterson says, "... now, it's a whole new ballgame, where you can actually manufacture methamphetamine in a two liter bottle in approximately 30 to 45 minutes, have your finished product, and ready to go." When the drug manufacturers are finished they often leaving behind used pop bottles filled with highly toxic chemical sludge.
The one pot recipe for meth circumvents the new laws passed in 2005 that made it difficult to obtain the large quantities of pseudophedrine needed, because the new method requires only a few pseudophedrine tablets to manufacture smaller batches of methamphedamine.
One pot meth also uses small quantities of easy to acquire household chemicals instead of the old style meth recipe which required large quantities of anhydrous amonia, which was often stolen from farms.
One more problem with the new one pot meth recipe, one big problem, it is highly explosive. "When the chemicals inside are reacting you can actually see little fires occuring within the plastic bottle, and that's what we have to remember, that this is a plastic bottle," Peterson explained, "and you see lithium interacting with water and those two mix and you get a fire. Well, it's happened in several states where, that's how they find these labs, when something goes boom."
One possible solution to the new problem is even tighter regulation of pseudophedrine. Minnesota's current laws limit the number of packages one person can purchase in a drug store. But Peterson says "what we would really like to see is a statewide database like several other states have initiated for the pseudophedrine logs... so investigators and agents could... pull up all of the stores and see who is buying the pseudophedrine."
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