July 26, 2005
HEALTH DEPARTMENT OVERSEES CLEANUP OF SOUTH CHARLOTTE METHAMPHETAMINE LAB
Charlotte, NC- The Mecklenburg County Health Department, along with multiple state and local agencies, responded to the county's first discovered methamphetamine laboratory last week in a south Charlotte townhouse. Officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department found the working lab at a home on Knights Bridge Road on July 18. The occupant was arrested and charged with possession and manufacturing of methamphetamine. The Health Department will oversee the cleanup of the property, in accordance with North Carolina law, and work to educate the public on the dangers of methamphetamine and other illegal substances.
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is also known as speed, crystal, crank, and ice. It is the most widely manufactured, distributed, and abused type of amphetamine, a class of stimulant drugs.
Methamphetamine is highly addictive. The user feels an intense rush which can last up to twelve hours. Thus that person can stay awake and not eat for days. The rush and high felt from the drug results from the release of high levels of dopamine into the part of the brain that controls the feeling of pleasure. This can be followed by a period of anxiety, depression, paranoia, or aggressive behavior. Psychotic symptoms can persist for months or, even years after use is discontinued.
The drug's use has skyrocketed in recent years due to the relative ease with which it can be made. Over-the-counter cold medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine and other materials are literally cooked in homemade labs to make methamphetamine.
Manufacturing or "cooking" methamphetamine releases toxic materials into the air as well as producing toxic waste after the drug is made. This situation can be very dangerous for local authorities as first responders have been known to suffer from respiratory ailments, eye irritations, dizziness, and nausea.
Large numbers of labs have been shut down recently in rural areas of North Carolina. They have turned up in many different types of locations, including apartments, hotel rooms, rented storage spaces, and even trucks. Meth labs can be portable and are easily dismantled or moved. This portability helps methamphetamine manufacturers avoid law enforcement authorities.
But how do you know if there's a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory cooking in your neighborhood? Here are some things to look for:
- Strong odors that might resemble cat urine, or unusual chemical smells like ether, ammonia, or acetone.
- Extra, noticeable efforts to black out windows or reinforce doors.
- Lots of traffic - people coming and going at extremely late hours.
- Excessive trash including large amounts of items such as anti-freeze containers, red chemically stained coffee filters, lantern fuel cans, drain cleaner, and duct tape.
- Large numbers of clear glass containers being brought into the home.
- Vehicles loaded with trunks, chemical containers or basic chemistry paraphernalia - glassware, rubber tubing, etc.
- Inhabitants smoking outside the residence due to the fumes.
What should you do if you believe this type of activity is going on? Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say if you suspect there is a methamphetamine laboratory near you to call 911 immediately or the Vice Hotline at 704-336-8423. Do NOT go near the site.
For more information on methamphetamine and labs, visit the Web site