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Spotting a meth lab

Renee Davis
Renee Davis/Leadville Chronicle
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LEADVILLE – Social caseworkers, realtors and property managers learned the ins and outs of spotting methamphetamine labs. The training was specifically targeted to people who enter homes but are police officers, focusing on safety for people who visit locations with methamphetamine labs.

“If you suspect you’re in a lab, your hands should go into your pockets,” said Kell Hulsey, a caseworker for the Weld County Drug Task Force. Keeping the hands in pockets keeps them clean and away from the mouth and eyes, Hulsey said.”Meth labs can look like a dirty kitchen,” said Lynn Riemer, a chemist with the North Metro Drug Task Force. “If you can make oatmeal cookies or mac-and-cheese, you can make meth.”

Laboratory-quality glassware is found in only 10 percent of labs, Riemer said. Most equipment is built ad-hoc.However, there are telltale signs of a home lab. Bottles with two-layers of liquids are dead give away, Riemer said. Anything with tubing coming out is also and indicator, Riemer said.Tubing on glass bottles can be used to cool and condense vapors created while cooking methamphetamine. Large qualities of cold medication are also indicative of a methamphetamine operation.



Cold medication has become more regulated, but ingredients can be purchased via the Internet, Hulsey said.Lake County may have had only one possible methamphetamine lab discovered in 2004, said Sheriff Ed Holte. However, there have been other indications of labs in Lake County. Holte said he had received three reports of red phosphorus in various sanitation systems in the county. Red phosphorus is a common ingredient used in the production of methamphetamine. Holte said methamphetamine use in Lake County is on the rise.

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