Pubdate: Thu, 12 Oct 2006
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2006 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Pamela Cowan
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


If housekeepers find a camp stove, funnels or plastic tubing in a 
hotel room, they should carefully but quickly back out of what could 
be a Kitchen of Death.

"Kitchen of Death" is a phrase used by police, fire and emergency 
services to describe a crystal meth lab, said retired Regina police 
detective-sergeant Rick Watson.

"There is a recipe to make meth and part of the process is cooking 
it," Watson said Wednesday at an information session co-sponsored by 
the Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association and the Service & 
Hospitality Safety Association of Saskatchewan.

"An innocent person wouldn't equate what a heating element is doing 
there so the first step is to recognize that this could be a 
potential illegal drug production facility."

An operating lab is very unstable and breathing in fumes is dangerous 
so it's important to leave quickly, Watson said.

"Don't touch anything, don't turn anything on or off, go out the same 
way you came in -- it's almost like a minefield," he said. "Since 
you've gotten in this far, you go backwards the same way."

The area should be secured and the lab should be reported 
immediately, but first check to make sure you're not walking through 
puddles of blood or chemicals, he said.

Booby traps in American meth labs are not uncommon.

"One setup had a bucket of sulfuric acid over top the door so the 
second the door opened the bucket would fall on your head," Watson said.

"And, if the person is there, even if he were clean and straight, 
he'd be a danger because you're confronting a person who is 
conducting an illegal act."

Watson described how crystal meth is produced, the effects of the 
highly addictive drug on the user and society as well as possible 
labs locations.

Since crystal meth can be cooked in hotel rooms, it's important to 
educate staff, said Tom Mullin, president and CEO of the SHHA 
following the presentation. He hasn't heard about meth labs set up in 
Saskatchewan hotels, but Mullin believes that "information is the 
best defence."

Watson can't get local statistics about crystal meth use, but he 
knows Saskatchewan isn't immune.

"There are meth users here so obviously there (are) meth production 
facilities here," he said.

Sharing information is vital because crystal meth is a problem in the 
city and the province, said Staff Sgt. Dave Wyatt of the Regina Police Service.

He said meth labs "are scary" because a person can be contaminated or 
injured if the chemicals react. The situation can be so explosive 
that city police officers are trained to immediately back off if they 
unwittingly walk into a meth lab.

"We have specially trained members in the province who deal with meth 
labs," Wyatt said. "We know how dangerous they are and the idea is to 
get out and contain the area and then have the experts come in and 
deal with it because there's special equipment needed."

People working in various jobs should be aware of how to identify a 
crystal meth lab since they can be set up in rented houses, campers, 
storage sheds, storage lockers, abandoned farm houses, garages and vehicles.

Joanne Jarvis, a SaskPower employee, took extra information packages 
to spread the word among her co-workers, family and friends. Pictures 
of how crystal meth has affected users was what she called "a huge eye-opener."

"You have no idea about the devastation that it causes and the danger 
to innocent people, whether it's a service technician or a meter 
reader," she said.

Free 11/2-hour information sessions will be held today in Saskatoon, 
at the Prince Albert Travelodge on Oct. 24, the Dragon Palace 
Restaurant in North Battleford on Oct. 25, and the Best Canadian 
Motor Inn in Lloydminster on Oct. 26.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman