ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A dangerous tactic by illegal drug makers could put residents at risk, even if they aren’t involved with drugs at all.
Increasingly meth makers are using plastic soda bottles to cook their drugs and then tossing the bottles out all over the area, which means what looks like trash left on the side of the road or in the woods could be dangerous chemicals ready to explode.
It’s a concern for police in the region, as residents could come across one and be hurt by exposure to dangerous chemicals or an explosion.
“As prevalent as meth labs are, anyone in the St. Louis region could come across one,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Drug Unit leader Corporal Tim Whitney said.
Police say it only takes a 20 minute lesson to learn how to empty a soda bottle, then fill it with the necessary chemicals to make meth.
The simplicity is why Jefferson County is on pace to set a record for the number of meth labs.
“It’s a lot more hazardous waste for the rest of us to clean up and pick up,” Whitney said. “They’re a fire hazard, an exposure hazard and an inhalation hazard. So handling these could be very dangerous.”
Corporal Whitney says the meth makers often drive down the road with their concoction cooking up in a bottle in their car, then toss the trash out when it’s finished.
Residents might find one of the bottles thrown on the side of the highway, tossed into a dumpster behind a business or thrown on a lawn. The warning signs that they were used to make meth are if it has a liquid that’s different than the original, if there are solids, or black flakes or if it has rubber tubing coming out of it.
Authorities are trying to get the warning out by meeting with groups that have adopted highways or may work on roadside cleanups.
“Every month I’m out, I’ve talked to Boy Scout leaders, I’ve talked to churches, I’ve talked to school leaders.”
Their message to those who spot the remnants of a meth lab are not to touch it and immediately call police.
Through November of 2012, Jefferson County has been the location of 303 meth labs and 98 dumpsites. There have been 12 dumpsites in fields or woods, 48 dumpsites in vehicles and 145 dumpsites in houses