Rhode Island meth lab bust signals growing trend

Warwick, Rhode Island:  A meth lab inside a guest room inside Motel 6 this week may signal a growing trend in the region. In 2010, DEA reported zero meth labs in the state of Rhode Island. But since that time, meth labs have appeared more than once in the Ocean State, raising serious concerns that meth labs may be taking a foothold in the region. If that proves true, like it’s done in other states, will the littlest state in the union be prepared to take on the very big problems that meth labs bring? Time will tell.  In the meantime, news reports about meth labs in Rhode Island have continued to signal that meth labs may be here to stay.

Just this week, Warwick police discovered a meth lab inside a room at the Motel 6 located on Jefferson Boulevard. As a result of that discovery, two men were arrested and charged with manufacturing methamphetamines. A third man associated with the incident was also arrested for meth possession. Residents of the motel were asked to leave to insure their safety as Hazmat members and police made their way in to the room to remove evidence and neutralize the dangerous chemicals used to make the drug.

warwick ri meth lab motel 6

According to news reports,  in addition to removing meth lab chemicals, police and Hazmat personnel also removed hypodermic needles. News reports have said that the room was decontaminated and Motel 6 is back in business. I hope that’s the end of the story, but based on other media reports involving the facility, criminal activity is likely to continue.  This week’s meth lab bust at Motel 6  joins a growing list of problems that the motel has encountered, problems including a murder, a blindfolded kidnapping, some runaway thieves, drug deals, and now a meth lab.

After 8 years of watching meth lab trends in the U.S., I’m certainly not surprised that a meth lab was found in a motel. Motels have proven to be popular among meth cooks, who seek the privacy that motels provide to the guests of their facility.  No one is likely to bother someone behind a closed motel room door.  But, motels are far from being the only location favored by meth lab cooks. Abandoned houses work nicely for them, as well, as do sheds, garages, basements, private homes, and businesses.

Where have meth labs appeared in Rhode Island? Here’s a glimpse of some meth lab busts that have been in the news during the last few years:

Cranston, Rhode Island

In February 2015, Police arrested two men for operating a meth lab inside the Devan Manor apartment complex at 1214 Cranston St. According to court documents, evidence seized at the scene suggested that methamphetamine had been produced at least 11 times, in the apartment building that is mainly inhabited by elderly residents.

Warwick, Rhode Island

In January 16, 2014, Warwick police and the DEA teamed up to bust up a meth lab operation in Room 132 the Pineapple Inn in Newport, Rhode Island. The 51-year-old man who was renting the room had sold methamphetamine to undercover agents  4 times between Oct. 25 and Dec. 6, 2013, three times in a parking lot of a Warwick motel and once inside of a hotel room in North Smithfield. He was sentenced to 8 years is prison.

Providence, Rhode Island

In January 25, 2011, a former Brown University student was accused of having a meth lab in his rented home on Pine St.

In May 2011, two more men, a 62-year-old man from Providence and a 23-year-old man from Pawtucket, were arrested for possession of 100 grams of crystal meth and 2 grams of crack cocaine.

Meth Lab Cleanup and Registry established in North Liberty Iowa

North Liberty City Iowa: A new meth lab cleanup ordinance in North Liberty City will hold property owners responsible for meth lab cleanup costs. Previously, property owners were asked to perform meth lab cleanup on their private residences or rental properties, but there was no legal requirement for them to do so. The new ordinance, which passed on Tuesday, will prohibit anyone from living in a contaminated meth lab house until the property has been properly decontaminated. Although, it is not yet known, what those decontamination standards will be, it is expected that North Liberty City will follow in the footsteps of other Iowa communities such as Marion, Burlington, and Washington.

meth lab cleanup techniciansAccording to The Gazette, “Burlington’s ordinance requires landlords of meth properties to have the buildings tested by a certified industrial hygienist to verify there is less than 0.1 microgram of residue per 100 square centimeters before the building can be reoccupied.” Burlington property owners must also notify any future buyer or renter if meth was present in their real estate property for 3 years after it tested positive for meth. The city of Marion extends the meth lab cleanup regulations to vehicles, as well, as real estate structures.

North Liberty’s meth lab cleanup ordinance is not a guarantee

While North Liberty’s meth lab cleanup ordinance will help clean up some of the city’s former meth houses, the public should be aware that the ordinance can only be applied to properties where police have discovered meth labs. Due t the fact that most meth labs are housed in small bottles these days, buyers and renters should keep in mind that police often don’t find them. In fact, law enforcement officers across the country estimate they find only 1 to 3 out of every 10 meth labs. You should also keep in mind that someone doesn’t need to make meth to contaminated a property. Smoking meth can also contaminate a structure, according to environmental health studies about meth lab contamination.

In addition to the passage of a meth lab cleanup ordinance, the North Liberty City Council also approved the creation of a meth lab house registry . The registry will list any properties where meth lab busts have taken place.

Lakeville MA Meth Lab Bust Sparks Meth Lab Disclosure and Cleanup Concerns

Lakeville, MA – A tip about a suspected meth lab led Lakeville Police Department officers to a trailer located on Shore Avenue on Friday morning that ended with the arrest of two individuals, John Costa, 33, of 28 Shore Ave and Rachel Eldridge, 39, of 489 Whispering Waters Way Gibsonton, FL. Costa and Eldridge were both arrested at the scene on charges including Manufacturing of a Class B Substance and Conspiracy to violate the Controlled Substance Act.

IMG_0582

According to press release by the Lakeville PD, “On 11-15-13 at approximately 07:26 AM the Lakeville Police Department executed a search warrant at 28 Shore Ave. The warrant was a result of information of a possible methamphetamine laboratory at the property. Lakeville Police, DEA, and State Police were able to secure the scene. Lakeville Fire Department, Department of Environmental Protection, and an emergency Hazardous Material Team responded to the scene for assistance.”

While somewhat unusual in Massachusetts, the discovery of a meth lab has long been a costly and dangerous problem in other parts of the nation, that typically results in threats to the health and safety of community members. People who make meth are typically not trained chemists and fires and explosions often result, leading to serious burns for those involved and chemical contamination that can cause serious health problems for innocent individuals and threaten the health of the local environment.

IMG_0584*A picture of a wooded area near Shore Avenue shows the surrounding area has been used as a dumping ground. Although, this pictures does not show any signs of meth lab waste (empty chemical cans, empty pseudoephedrine blister packs, lithium battery casings, plastic bottles with liquid or a muddy substance inside them, etc), the waste tossed by the roadside in this community is worrisome. Meth lab cooks often dispose of their chemical containers and pour leftover ingredients outdoors to minimize the suspicion of neighbors. In doing so, they contaminate the land and groundwater in their communities and put unsuspecting citizens at risk. Parents of children in this area should tell their children not to touch anything that they find outdoors. Shake and bake meth labs, which are made in small plastic bottles including soda bottles, sports drinks, water bottles, etc, can explode. Children or anyone else that handles them puts their safety at risk.

shake_and_bake_bottles*(examples of some meth lab equipment  pictured above and below) Shake and Bake meth labs are frequently associated with small plastic bottles, such as soda bottles.  Acids used to make meth in these bottles can eat through the plastic and cause fires, explosions, and serious burns. If you find a bottle outdoors, play it safe and leave it alone! If it looks suspicions, notify police! Other bottles may have tubing coming out of them, like those shown below.

shake-and-bake-methlab

Massachusetts is one of the New England states that have yet to enact laws to protect renters and home buyers against meth labs. While most states warn home buyers and renters that a home has been used to make meth, through real estate disclosures, or prohibit individuals from living in a contaminated meth lab home until it’s been decontaminated, Massachusetts has no laws in place regarding meth labs.  As a result, renters and home buyers who live  in a former meth lab face may face serious health problems caused when they are exposed to a myriad of toxic chemicals that remain inside a structure long after someone has manufactured or smoked methamphetamine inside it. In addition, anyone buying a home in Massachusetts faces the additional risk of buying a home that is considered to be a hazardous waste site by every state and federal health agency.

Homes contaminated by meth lab chemicals, according to current research, remain contaminated until they have been properly decontaminated, a procedure that often costs the property owner tens of thousands of dollars, a cost they are not often able to recoup from the person who caused the contamination. Another issue surrounding meth labs homes is the problem created when meth cooks dump their leftover chemicals outdoors or down drains in the house (usually it’s at least one of the two). If a home has a septic system and/or is supplied by well water, the dumping of meth lab chemicals can result in both contaminated soil as well as contaminated ground water, which can create a problem, not only for this home, but for the homes in the community surrounding it and the community members who reside there.

Public records reveal that this home was sold in April 2004 for $40,000. It was described as having been stripped to the studs. In June of 2004, however, it was resold for $105,000. It apparently was flipped and resold to a new buyer. As of 2012, the value of this home was close to $141,000. If the investigation proves this home is contaminated, all of the equity gained in this home may have flown out the window with the meth fumes. In fact, it may end up being worthless, as decontaminating a former meth lab home may entail a cost that exceeds its value, particularly if the soil and well water are also contaminated. The cost of decontaminating the home, even if this home was rented, ultimately lands in the hands of the property owner, even if they had nothing to do with the contamination.

According to the Lakeville PD press release, the incident remains under investigation.

Sources:

Authorities raid Lakeville meth lab, arrest 2 – “State police and agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency found “a one pot methamphetamine lab” when they raided a trailer at 28 Shore Ave., owned by John Costa of that address, according to court documents.”

2 arrested in alleged meth lab raid in Lakeville – “Assistant Plymouth County District Russell Eonas said, “It was described as an active, one-pot methamphetamine laboratory.”

Augusta Georgia: Meth lab bust may leave elderly woman with meth lab cleanup costs

Georgia – A meth lab bust in an Augusta home may leave an elderly woman with expensive meth lab cleanup costs. Today, while investigators were looking for evidence that individuals in the home were involved with a counterfeiting ring, they discovered the elderly woman’s home also contained two meth labs, as well as methamphetamine. One meth lab was found in a bedroom of her home. The other was located in her carport.

The 83 year old woman shared her home with two other individuals, a male and a female, and a 3 year old child.

augusta ga meth lab bustWhile both of the younger adults were placed under arrest for trafficking, manufacturing meth and manufacturing meth in the presence of a child, the elderly woman and the toddler had their health assessed by EMS personnel.

The good news is that neither one of them had to be transferred to a hospital.

The bad news is that after an Atlanta Hazmat team removes the meth lab chemicals and equipment from her home, the woman may not be allowed to return to her home, until the home has been decontaminated.

Additionally, there are no government loans or grants that will help her to pay for the meth lab clean up costs, costs that can easily add up to several thousand dollars.

Source:

“WRDW.com -Investigators Find 2 Suspected Meth Labs at Home in Augusta.” , Web. 27 Mar. 2013.

 

 

 

Meth Labs Explosion Fuels Disclosures Action by NY Senator Tim Kennedy

Meth labs are exploding in New York – a state with no meth lab disclosure rules – a fact that has NY Senator Tim Kennedy rightly concerned. Living in a former meth lab home, that is still contaminated with meth lab chemicals, can take a heavy toll on a person’s health.  Fetuses, babies,  young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, are particularly at risk of the ill effects of meth lab chemical exposure, even at low levels, studies say. But, no one else is immune either. Exposure to meth lab chemicals can affect anyone. Research shows that exposure to low levels of meth lab chemicals, like the levels that exist in homes where meth has been made, can cause serious health problems for all humans and animals too.  If you are a New York resident, please support the efforts of Senator Kennedy to protect the public’s health by requiring home sellers and landlords to disclose whether their property was was previously used as a meth lab.

NY Senator Tim Kennedy proposes meth lab disclosure

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2012
Contact: John Mackowiak, 716-826-2683 (office) | johnmackowiakjr@gmail.com

Senator Kennedy Proposes New Meth Lab Disclosure Rules to Protect Homeowners, Renters

Hazardous chemicals left behind in homes once used as meth labs pose serious health risks; Kennedy wants new disclosure requirements for sellers and landlords.
At 148, a record-setting number of meth labs uncovered and broken up across N.Y. State in 2012.

Kennedy: When Homeowners are Kept in the Dark on Meth Contamination, Serious Health Problems Take Entire Families by Surprise. It’s Time for New Rules to Protect Buyers and Renters.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – In 2012, a record-setting number of meth labs were uncovered and broken up across New York State. Law-enforcement agencies reported 148 incidents where they took down clandestine meth-production laboratories, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. This spread of meth production has given rise to a new problem – meth ‘cooks’ are leaving behind hazardous chemical residues in the homes or apartments where they carried out the production process.

Under current state law, home sellers and landlords are not required to inform future occupants that a home or apartment was once used to produce methamphetamine – even though the residues left behind pose serious health risks. Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, is proposing state legislation to protect home buyers and renters with new disclosure requirements. He outlined his plan Friday, just blocks away from the site of last week’s meth raid on Niagara Street. Captain Henry Baranski and Community Police Officer Anthony Lebron of Buffalo Police A-District Station in South Buffalo joined Kennedy to support the proposal.

When meth residues are not cleaned up, residents are highly susceptible to serious illness. Unsuspecting families across the nation have faced serious health problems as a result of undisclosed meth contamination in their homes.  Kennedy’s proposal would require home sellers and landlords to notify potential purchasers or renters that their property was once used as a meth lab.

“With the proliferation of methamphetamine production in communities across our state and nation, some homeowners are finding their dream homes to be nightmares contaminated with hazardous chemicals left behind by broken-up meth labs,” said Senator Kennedy. “When home buyers and renters are kept in the dark about meth contamination, serious health problems can take entire families by surprise – and the costly remediation bills for clean up often lead to serious financial hardships. Our proposal will protect homeowners and renters by ensuring sellers and landlords fully disclose a property’s status as a former meth lab prior to purchase or lease-signing.”

Law enforcement officials across the country have pointed to the one-pot method, also known as the shake-and-bake method, as a cause behind the rise in meth production. With the one-pot method, meth makers mix all of the ingredients – which can be easily and legally purchased at most pharmacies and department stores – together in one bottle to produce several grams of methamphetamine. The DEA says that of the 148 meth-lab incidents across the state in 2012, 138 involved the one-pot method. It’s a substantial increase since 2011 when there was a total of just 42 meth incidents statewide, according to the DEA.

Kennedy said he will work to expedite the legislative process and push for swift passage of his proposal. Until the measure is approved and signed into law, Kennedy urges sellers and landlords to voluntarily disclose all information regarding past methamphetamine production to potential purchasers or renters.

“New York State is lagging behind when it comes to protecting homeowners and renters from harmful meth residues – about half the states have already enacted some type of disclosure regulations,” Kennedy added. “It’s time for our state to take action.”

 

Kennedy’s proposal is similar to measures seen in other states. Specifically, the proposed measure would:

  • Require written disclosure of a property’s status as a former meth lab prior to home-closing or lease-signing. Home sellers must notify buyers. Landlords must notify renters.
  • Establish guidelines for the clean-up or demolition of any property discovered to have been used as a meth-production laboratory. Once clean-up or demolition standards are proven to have been met, the property owner will have immunity from suit brought by any future owner.
  • Require banks holding foreclosed-upon properties to disclose to potential buyers if a home was formerly used as a meth lab.
  • A seller who knowingly fails to make the required disclosure will be liable to the buyer for any costs related to the remediation or clean-up of the property and any costs associated with any health-related injuries or ailments that occur as a result of the meth-production contamination.

There will be no regulations preventing the sale of a property formerly used as a methamphetamine-production laboratory – either before or after remediation – but the seller must notify the purchaser of the property’s status as a former drug lab prior to the closing of the sale.

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Senator Timothy M. Kennedy represents the New York State Senate’s 63rd District, which is comprised of the town of Cheektowaga, the city of Lackawanna and most of the city of Buffalo. More information is available at http://kennedy.nysenate.gov

PHOTO INFORMATION: Senator Kennedy holds up common household products that are often used as ingredients to produce methamphetamine. He’s joined by Buffalo Police Department A-District Captain Henry Baranski.

Punta Gorda Florida: Police find a meth lab in vacant home before owner sells it

Florida: A vacant Punta Gorda home, scheduled to be sold on Friday, was the scene of a methlab bust on Thursday morning.

A call about a possible burglary in a vacant home located east of 37591 Washington Loop Road led to the discovery of a methlab, early on Thursday morning. When deputies arrived at the house, they noticed a woman sitting in the driver’s seat of a brown Cadillac vehicle that was parked behind the house. Suspecting that a fire had started inside the house and safety of individuals in the house were in danger, deputies entered the smoke-filled home and discovered two men standing in the kitchen by the stove. Deputies also noticed a hairdryer and what appeared to methamphetamine cooking in a bottle.

When narcotics detectives arrived, they discovered several other items that are associated with manufacturing meth: plastic tubing in a bathroom sink, battery casings, and glass baking dish containing residue. Additionally, they found four clear plastic bags containing methamphetamine.

Investigators also discovered the driver’s purse in a bedroom closet, along with several drugs and drug-related paraphernalia. Drugs discovered at the residence included Alprazolam, Oxycodone, Valium pills, and methamphetamine. Four packs of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient needed to make methamphetamine, were also discovered inside the home, along with a digital scale, several syringes, and spoons containing drug residue. Hallucinogenic mushrooms were located inside the vehicle that was parked behind the house.

The Charlotte County Hazmat Unit also responded to the home to remove the chemicals and equipment that was discovered at the property.

Alabama mom exposed to methlab chemicals is fighting pancreatic cancer

Blaine Childers sits beside his mother on the night he was arrested for making meth in her home with two of his friends, an activity that produces toxic fumes, some of which are known to cause cancer.

Priceville, AL – An Alabama mother who is fighting to keep pancreatic cancer from ending her life, discovered this week that her son, Blaine Childers,  and two of his friends, Melissa Chaney and Brandon French, had been arrested for making meth in her home.

According to a WAFF 48 News report,  Sheriff Ann Franklin noted that the woman was being exposed to methamphetamine carcinogen chemicals everyday and she is terminally ill with cancer.

WAFF also noted officers responding to the bust, said a dog that was also living in the home, had lost some of its hair as a “result of the chemical exposure”.

For more information about this story visit WAFF 48 News

WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Oklahoma pseudoephedrine law imposes new limits on consumers

A new law in Oklahoma placed new limits on consumers of pseudoephedrine today, placing the state among over 20 states who have adopted the use NPLEX tracking system. NPLEX, an electronic tracking system provided by the pharmaceutical industry, will be used by the state to track the purchase habits of consumers of cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

Under the new system, information about consumers and their buying habits will be added to a real-time database that is shared with other states that have adopted the NPLEX system.  Additionally, individuals purchasing products containing pseudoephedrine will only be allowed to buy 7.3 grams per month, 60 grams per year, and 3.6 grams per day. A single box of 10 pills containing pseudoephedrine equals about 2. 4 grams.

Previously, Oklahoma had set limits on pseudoephedrine to 9 grams per month and 108 grams per year.  Once a buyer has met their daily limit of 3.6 grams, they will also have to wait more than 72 hours to purchase more of the cold and allergy drug. The new law applies to all forms of medicine containing pseudoephedrine,  including dry tablets, gel capsules, or liquids.

Lawmakers hope that the new restrictions will keep meth cooks from obtaining the pseudoephedrine they use to manufacture methamphetamine. Law enforcement officers and others who opposed the adoption of the NPLEX system believe that methlab cooks will eventually circumvent the tracking system, as they have done in other states, through a process known as smurfing.

 

Oklahoma City: Methlabs, methamphetamine, and grenade detonator found at local hotel

Oklahoma City: A routine patrol of the Biltmore hotel parking lot by Oklahoma police turned in to some tense moments, when police questioned two individuals who were wandering around the parking lot. One of those individuals, Kenna Lansdale, 28, had methamphetamine. The other, Wendell Lee Dearing, 38, said that he had a grenade detonator in his pocket, prompting officers to call in the Oklahoma City Police Bomb Squad. Further investigation revealed that the Dearing wasn’t lying. Inside his pocket was part of a grenade that can produce a small explosion. Additionally, Lansdale and Dearing were carrying duffel bags found to contain the components needed to manufacture methamphetamine. They were both placed under arrest and sent to Oklahoma City jail.

Source:

“UPDATE: Police Arrest Man, Woman at Oklahoma City Hotel.”  NewsOK, 11 June 2012. Web. 11 June 2012.

 

West Tulsa Neighborhood Evacuated After Meth Lab and Bomb Materials Found

Residents of a West Tulsa neighborhood were evacuated from their homes for several hours on Wednesday, after police discovered methlab chemicals and bomb-making materials in a neighbor’s home in Berryhill, just east of Chandler Park.

According to KRMG, neighbors said “… they had heard a number of loud explosions in the area in recent days, which were powerful enough to make their homes shake. Although, neighbors called 911 several times about the blasts,  Sheriff’s deputies were unable to pinpoint where the explosions had occurred.

A follow-up investigation, however, soon led them to the home of Don Alexander, 41, and Tina Alexander, 33, and their minor children. Don Alexander was charged with endeavoring to manufacture a controlled drug and manufacturing explosives for unlawful use.  Both of the Alexanders are being held without bond on drug and explosives charges, while their minor children are being cared for by DHS.

Some of the items that were reportedly found in the the couple’s bedroom were  glasses, cables, wires, and chemicals that included oxidizers, reactive metals, and solvents.

The types of chemicals discovered in the home could be used for making meth or making bombs, according to Stan May, a member of the Tulsa Fire Department.

Public safety officials including the Tulsa Fire Department Hazmat, Tulsa Police Department bomb squad, TPD Special Operations Team, Sheriff’s deputies, TPD officers, TFD firefighters, and investigating detectives all responded to the scene.

Several hours after being evacuated, officials allowed residents to return to their homes. Police are still investigating where Alexander purchased the chemicals found inside his home.

References:

Ball, Brandi, and Tara Vreeland. “NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com | Homes Evacuated, Berryhill Couple Arrested After Dangerous Chemicals Found.” Homes Evacuated, Berryhill Man Detained. News on 6, 04 Apr. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2012.

Burgin, Nicole, and Russell Mills. “Drug Investigation Uncovers Possible Bomb-making Lab.” AM740 and FM102.3. KRMG News Talk Radio, 04 Apr. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2012.