Maine battles record year for meth labs

In this October 2013 file photo, police in safety suits examine a car in an Ellsworth hotel parking lot as part of a mobile meth lab investigation. Three people from Aroostook County have been arrested in connection with the bust, which police say included the production of methamphetamine in a pickup truck in the same parking lot.
Bill Trotter | BDN
In this October 2013 file photo, police in safety suits examine a car in an Ellsworth hotel parking lot as part of a mobile meth lab investigation. Three people from Aroostook County have been arrested in connection with the bust, which police say included the production of methamphetamine in a pickup truck in the same parking lot.
Posted Dec. 08, 2013, at 9:14 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 08, 2013, at 1:25 p.m.

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A 29-year-old woman with a toddler is busted inside a run-down camper. Two twentysomething brothers are caught in a family cabin deep in the Maine woods. A 32-year-old woman in a mobile home tries to run when agents show up.

She doesn’t get far.

Still more people are discovered allegedly cooking meth in their cars, while others are catching themselves on fire.

The state has seen it all this year.

A special unit called the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s Clandestine Drug Laboratory Enforcement Team has responded to 19 confirmed methamphetamine labs so far in 2013, more than the past two years combined.

In 2009, the special team responded to one meth lab.

Police point to the recent ease of setting up a lab as a major reason — the “one-pot” method takes only a plastic soda bottle and over-the-counter finds such as lithium batteries and lye.

The trend in “one-pots” is making the drug for personal use, not so much for sale, but there’s still a steep cost for taxpayers: The MDEA has spent up to $15,000 to respond and clean up each lab.

Police say it’s also very easy for something to go wrong for “cookers” or bystanders.

So far, none of the 2013 labs has been found in the Twin Cities or western Maine, but Lewiston MDEA supervisor Matt Cashman has responded to each one in other parts of the state. He’s the lab team’s site safety officer.

“Different chemicals are used in making these things, none of which are good,” Cashman said. “We’ve got multiple concerns. With these ‘one-pots,’ a lot of the time the disposal [method] is throwing it in a dumpster somewhere, which could potentially light off. You could throw it in a ditch, a fire could start there. Or potentially you could have some bottle-picker pick up a meth lab.”

For the full story, visit the Sun Journal at sunjournal.com/news/maine/2013/12/07/meth-maine-state-battles-record-year-meth-labs/1460866.

 

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