Pubdate: Sat, 08 Apr 2006
Source: Now, The (Surrey, CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 The Now Newspaper
Author: Tom Zytaruk
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


If you've ever wondered what kind of threat that clandestine crystal 
meth lab in your neighbourhood really poses, consider this: According 
to Cpl. John Karlovec, of the Surrey RCMP's drug squad, a one-litre 
bottle of ether has enough explosive kick to easily level a 
1,400-square-foot home.

Still, that's but a drop compared to the quantity of ether some 
criminals are using in major meth labs.

"These guys are using 50-gallon drums in these things," he noted.

Equally disconcerting is the fact that most meth cooks tend not to be 
chemistry wizards. They try a dash of this and sprinkle of that as 
they mix up their batches, oblivious to potential chemical reactions.

"They're not chemists. We refer to them as cooks," Karlovec said. He 
recalled a case about three years ago in Newton where a meth lab blew 
up in a shed behind a house. The cook suffered massive third-degree 
burns and died of septic shock a week later.

Given the explosive potential of meth labs, police can't use their 
firearms to defend themselves. Sgt. John Furac recalled a case about 
eight years ago where police caught a cook in the act. The guy had a 
gun tucked in his belt when police came in. Since no one could shoot, 
the guy started throwing chemicals at police. The house blew right 
off its foundation, taking the cook with it.

What's particularly scary is that Surrey RCMP's drug squad has 
discovered meth labs inside apartments in local towers.

The danger to the public is extreme in such cases, compounded by the 
fact meth manufacturers don't seem to care.

Given the inherent dangers, police are always seeking tips on where 
meth labs are operating in Surrey.

Here are some tell-tale signs of clandestine labs:

- - Windows blacked out and curtains always drawn,

- - Chemical smell,

- - Garbage often has bottles and containers of acetone, toluene, 
muriatic acid, red phosphorus, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, methanol, 
rubbing alcohol, sodium hydroxide, ether, paint thinner and ammonia,

- - Metal drums or boxes with labels removed or spray painted over,

- - Residents setting out their garbage on a neighbour's property,

- - Unfriendly, paranoid behaviour coupled with frequent late-night 
activity, residents coming outside to smoke cigarettes, and residents 
being unemployed yet driving expensive cars and having lots of money,

- - Expensive security.
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