Over the last few days we’ve blogged about advice to New Zealand home buyers to get forensic tests for Methamphetamine carried out on their prospective properties as part of the pre-purchase routine.
Methamphetamine (P) manufacture and use is widespread throughout New Zealand. The chemicals used to ‘cook’ the expensive, highly addictive and dangerous drug (and the drug itself) can be absorbed into the fabric of a building, where they remain in dangerous quantities and have serious effects on the health of the people living there.
A former Hamilton detective once accused the Government of a “head in the sand mentality” when it comes to New Zealand’s growing drug culture. The country now rates as having the third highest number of P users per capita in the world.
Today we’re writing about how to tell if a clandestine P house is operating in your neighbourhood.
Meth labs don’t just present a hazard because of the nature of the drug that is being manufactured but there is also the risk of property damage due to explosion and fire. Waste products may be dumped in the surrounding area where your kids play, or diffuse into your property. Drug dealing goes on around P houses and the streets are busy night and day with people calling at the house and there are increased levels of crime.
Drug dealers are often armed and may keep guns, ammunition, stolen property and other drugs in the premises. (ref Daniel Vae and New Zealand’s war on drugs)
There may also be children living in extreme danger at the property as around a third of homes where methamphetamine is being manufactured have children living in them. Figures show that 35-70% of children in those environments test positive to methamphetamine itself, while 90% test positive to toxic levels of chemicals. (source)
Children may be being used as couriers by their parents and children as young as six have been found passing drugs at school. (Ref. Drugs battle fought on school playgrounds and six year old kids take dope to school)
Labs can be set up anywhere from a rural apartment; to a house in a family neighbourhood or in the back of a car and can be very hard to discover.
A pound (450g) of crystal meth can produce about 6 pounds (3kg) of waste. Manufacturers often pour waste chemicals and other unwanted byproducts down drains, toilets, streams, or directly onto the ground. So widespread is the manufacture of this drug in New Zealand that some of the chemicals and equipment used in its manufacture used to be sold in corner shops and dairies.
From How to Do Things.com
“Knowing how to recognize a meth lab can help stop drug trafficking in your neighborhood. Having a good neighborhood watch system in place is imperative in all neighborhoods these days. If neighbors pay close attention, they should be able to spot garbage items that are ingredients to make crystal meth and then contact the authorities to take over from there. Here are more tips to determine if a meth lab is in your neighborhood:
- Strong, unpleasant smells. Anyone who has ever owned a cat will recognize the acrid smell of ammonia. If you notice a “cat urine” smell strongly emanating from a nearby building, or notice any other strong chemical smells, it’s unlikely that cats are to blame – especially if any of the following observations coincide with the smell.
- Deliberate attempts to prevent anyone from seeing inside the building. Often the questionable building either has no windows or, more suspiciously, the windows are covered somehow.
- Lots of traffic. A meth lab will have many frequent, brief visits at strange hours of the day, often at night in the hopes that all neighbors are asleep.
- Copious quantities of garbage. Meth ingredients obviously involve chemicals. A meth labs uses lots of laboratory chemicals like stove fuel, white gasoline, ammonia, propane tanks, paint thinner and antifreeze, not to mention cold and diet pills. And other labratory supplies involve equipment like glass containers and tubing is always in use. If your neighbor is careless enough to leave all of the empty containers out on the curb for garbage pickup, then the sheer quantity of trash should make you suspicious. But you should never inspect the garbage yourself; meth lab equipment and waste are extremely hazardous. It’s far more likely that your neighbor will never leave the garbage out at the curb for pickup, but instead always ship the garbage elsewhere so as to avoid detection.
- Secrecy. Whether in an apartment or a house, your neighbor will likely want nothing to do with you. If you’ve tried to interact with your neighbor, but always found yourself talking through a closed or barely cracked door (and notice any other strange activity or smells), the neighbor may be hiding a meth lab from you. However, you must never approach a building or residence where you already suspect meth cooking. Not only might the lab explode, but also the toxic fumes of a meth lab can kill a person.
- Rent paid in cash. If you’re a landlord, a tenant running a meth lab would almost certainly pay rent in cash.
- All this, and then nothing. When people know they are making meth, the cookers often abandon their meth labs, but that hardly means you and other neighbors can breathe a sigh of relief yet. An abandoned meth lab is still a toxic environment containing hazardous, volatile waste. Report such a building to local law enforcement.”