Methamphetamine labs are more than just dangerous and illegal. They leave a mess an environmental hazard that, according to Indiana law, must be cleaned up.
And it takes a special process, certification and inspectors who scour the property in full-gear Hazmat suits and respirators to do the dirty work.
Welcome to the world of meth lab cleanup companies, a growing and profitable business.
Indiana, which ranks in the top five for meth production, has 22 companies certified by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to decontaminate properties.
And business is, um, booming.
“It’s such a growing epidemic,” said Donetta Held, CEO of Crisis Cleaning, a Bloomfield, Ind., company. “It’s everywhere — from a high-dollar house in downtown Indianapolis to these rural counties.”
Held’s company has already done 25 meth cleanups this year, in less than three months. That’s already half as many as the company completed last year.
“Some people say there is not as much meth or meth has gone down,” Held said. “Um, no. I don’t see that at all.”
Neither do police, which have seen a steady growth in meth lab seizures in the past three years. In 2009, law enforcement shut down 1,364 labs. In 2010, 1,395 labs were seized. Last year, that number climbed to 1,437.
That has meant lots of revenue for meth cleanup companies. Most companies charge about $2 to $3 per square foot to do a cleanup. Depending on the size of the property and how many rooms need to be decontaminated, the cost can range from $5,000 to $10,000.
And, now, who is saying that the states should not require a prescription for pseudoephedrine?
Well, it is the drug company that makes allergy and cold pills that contain the meth precursor chemicals. They are afraid of reduced sales.
Most of these labs would go away with NO precursor chemicals with which to make methamphetamine. So, why the delay?
A solution is easy – limit the precursor chemicals and secure the Mexican border from the drug cartels.
STORMING a ranch south of the city of Guadalajara, Mexican soldiers last month made one of the biggest drug busts in history. They found 15 tonnes of the banned stimulant methamphetamine, which in America retails for more than $100 per gram, seven tonnes of chemicals used to make it, and a laboratory. The manufacturers had fled.
This was the latest sign that meth, once primarily a home-cooked drug, has become a mass-produced one. Unlike cocaine and heroin, imported from the limited regions where coca and poppy are cultivated, meth can be made anywhere. In most countries the ingredients, principally ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, can be bought as medicine for colds. Cooking them is dangerous. But meth is so addictive that the risk of blowing off your hands is little deterrent: in 2010 the authorities discovered 6,768 makeshift labs in America.
Read it all.
And, the methamphetamine is being manufactured via a different process since Mexico has banned the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrince. The precursorsfrom which the Mexican meth is made have been banned in the United States since the 1980’s.
Seizures of methamphetamine at the Laredo customs district — the nation’s largest inland port — are on pace this fiscal year to surpass last year’s total by about 60 percent, reaching an expected total of about 1,650 pounds.
The statistic supports the theory that Mexican cartels are increasingly supplying the heavily addictive narcotic in the U.S., replacing domestic meth labs that were prevalent in rural areas only a few years ago. And analysts say that the ease with which meth can be produced in Mexico could help spark major changes in the bloody turf war between drug cartels.
Program directors in Laredo’s treatment centers have said the heavily addictive narcotic doesn’t appear to be staying in the area, as meth addicts aren’t filing in for treatment in greater numbers.
But researchers caution that demand is increasing away from the border and that Mexican gangs are becoming experts at cooking a cheap and highly potent version of the drug.
“The Mexicans have moved to an old recipe that existed in the ’70s and ’80s that is called P2P,” said Jane C. Maxwell, a senior research scientist at the Addiction Research Institute at the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin.
“It uses precursors that have been banned in the U.S. since the 1980s, but the Mexicans have taken up making it,” Maxwell said of ingredients — including a substance called propanone — used to make the drug. “They are making it in mass quantities, and they are damn good chemists.”
Methamphetamine manufacturing is like a cockroach. Snuff it out in one area and it springs up some place else.
Is there any wonder why the border with Mexico has to be secured?
While the amount of meth produced, shipped and used pales in comparison with the produced amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin — the leading cash generators for Mexican cartels — the street value of methamphetamine proves it has potential to continue being a significant revenue source for criminal groups. In 2011 a pound of meth was valued at $11,000 to $15,000 in Brownsville and $20,000 to $25,000 in San Antonio.
Because of that economic potential — and because it can be produced domestically and year-round — analysts are positing that meth could become responsible for a turning point in the wars between Mexican cartels.