Lakeville, MA – A tip about a suspected meth lab led Lakeville Police Department officers to a home 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.
*A picture taken on Sunday by a methlabhomes.com reporter, shows no warning signs that would alert the public that the home is contaminated with hazardous chemicals, despite the fact that homes where meth is manufactured or smoked become contaminated with hazardous meth lab chemicals. Studies have shown that exposure to meth lab chemicals are a threat to human health.
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.
*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.
*(pictured above) 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.
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.
*The home involved in Friday’s meth lab bust appears to have had a sign in front of it recently and may have been for sale or for rent. Buyers and renters beware! If the camper situated beside this home was also used to make meth, it is likely that is also contaminated by meth lab chemicals. Generally, campers and trailer homes cost more to decontaminate than they are worth. In other parts of the country with meth lab laws in place, trailer homes and campers are typically taken to a hazardous waste site to be destroyed.
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 this 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.
Pubic 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 $150,000. 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.