Clandestine Chemical Drug Labs
Clandestine chemical drug labs are increasing across North America and have found its way into British Columbia.
Chemical labs normally seen are those capable of producing large quantities of methamphetamines or MDMA, commonly referred to as Ecstasy.
These manufacturing sites are an investigative challenge for responding agencies, as they often involve a quantity of easily obtained chemicals and solvents that, when mixed together are highly flammable and explosive.
In Vancouver, labs have been located in houses and apartments. Investigators have also recovered millions of dollars in precursors in drug production from storage rental units.
Types of Labs
Most common are methamphetamine labs 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 grade glass ware (e.g. beakers, Corning Ware and chemical condenser tubes).
Things to Look For
Meth and other labs are often found in rental properties, similar to the more common grow operations. But labs can be anywhere, including motel / hotel rooms, vehicles and motor homes, and even outside.
Suspicious activities that may indicate a lab or beginning of a lab include:
- 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 anything, turn off anything or move anything. Leave the site immediately and contact the police at 911. It is extremely important you remain available to speak with attending police members.