Clandestine chemical labs are capable of producing large quantities of methamphetamines or MDMA, commonly referred to as Ecstasy.These manufacturing sites are a challenge for police to investigate, as they often involve chemicals and solvents that are highly flammable and explosive when mixed together.
In Vancouver, labs have been located in houses and apartments, and investigators have recovered chemicals and solvents worth millions of dollars from storage rental units.
Types of labs
Methamphetamine labs are most common, and often capable of producing more than 10 pounds of the drug in a single cook. Chemicals used in the production include acetone, Hydriodic acid, red phosphorous, toluene, camp stove fuel, and drain cleaners. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products are cooked and cleaned using a combination of these chemicals to create crystal meth. This entails the mixture of chemicals, causing an intense heat and potential for fire.
Also found in labs are various commercial and residential types of glassware, like beakers, Corningware, and chemical condenser tubes.
Things to look for
Labs are often found in rental properties, but can be anywhere, including motel or hotel rooms, vehicles, and motor homes, and even outside.
Suspicious activities that may indicate a lab or the beginning of a lab:
- dumping of a large amount of chemical containers, normally with all labels torn off
- purchase and storage of a number of chemicals, road flares or pseudo ephedrine products
- night time activity around the residence
- chemical smells, similar to urine for meth and saffarole (licorice) for Ecstasy
- excessive staining on windows
Often people have been inside a lab without recognizing it. Look for:
- red stains on counter tops, bathtubs or sinks (this is caused the heating of the red phosphorous)
- stained coffee filters
- commercial chemical glassware
- chemical smells
If you discover a lab, don’t touch, turn off or move anything. Leave the site immediately and 9-1-1. It is extremely important you remain available to speak with attending police members.
Suspect a drug lab in Vancouver?
Report it directly to the police or anonymously through the Crime Stoppers website or 1-800-222-8477.