And this has law enforcement concerned.
On June 12, Sheriff’s Sgt. Brandon Burdick arrested a 27-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man following a traffic stop at St. Mary’s and Flournoy streets.
While the couple were arrested with evading arrest or detention following a pursuit, and manufacturing or delivering a controlled substance after a white powder believed to be cocaine was found in their car, it was the third charge that has Investigator Deputy Adam Levine concerned.
“Also found in the vehicle were components associated with the manufacturing of methamphetamine,” he said.
Levine declined to specify what the chemicals were in the Mitsubishi but did say that the making of meth involves dangerous and volatile chemicals.
“First of all, it is toxic,” he said. “The danger is the exposure to the chemicals and the danger if they are mixed incorrectly.”
Burdick went further, describing this as a time bomb on wheels.
“It is like a powder keg,” Burdick said. “It is more of when (it could explode) than an if.”
What makes meth so popular is the ease with which the ingredients can be found.
“It is easy to make,” Levine said. “You can buy the chemicals off the shelf. It is just different household items.”
Burdick added, “The only thing they will have difficulty getting is ephedrine.”
Ephedrine, used in decongestants, must be purchased at a pharmacy counter and buyers must show a picture identification. This makes getting large quantities of the medicine difficult but not impossible.
Uncommon in county
Burdick said that this is the first time he has come across a rolling meth lab while on patrol.
“Usually they are going to be in some backwoods area where they don’t have to worry about unwanted visitors,” he said.
However, this isn’t the first such rolling lab found within the confines of the county.
“I think the police department came across one four or five months ago,” Burdick said.
While the manufacturing of meth isn’t common in Bee County, its use is.
“You see more users than manufacturers. That is not to say that they are not around,” he said. “I would say the amount of users is probably going up.
“For a lot of people around here, cocaine and marijuana are the drugs of choice.”
National rising trend
This discovery on the county roadways parallels a national rising trend.
“With the trends that we see nationwide, this is not uncommon,” Levine said. “It is not something we see on a regular basis in Bee County.
“It is becoming more and more widespread nationwide in terms of manufacturing this stuff.”
Easy to conceal
Rolling meth labs, like the one found by Burdick, can’t be easily spotted either.
The chemicals can be hidden in the trunk, out of view of officers.
But that is where training comes in.
“It is something that when an officer stops a vehicle, he must use what he sees, what he hears and what he smells. Sgt. Burdick is very good at that when it comes to the narcotics aspects of law enforcement,” Levine said.
However, efforts to conceal a meth lab, or laziness, are what make these labs dangerous for officers and the public.
“Most of the time, the containers they have these chemicals in aren’t the containers they are designed for — like putting gasoline in a milk jug,” Burdick said.
On this recent stop, Burdick was fortunate — all the chemicals were labeled.
Stopping the labs
Burdick said all deputies are on the watch for these dangerous labs to stop them from infiltrating the county.
“In some parts of the country, it is more prevalent,” Burdick said. “But we also have a lot of people trickling to this area from those parts of the country.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.