Police Chief Joe Treviño said Monday that his officers had received a tip that there was a possible meth lab located in a house at 1301 W. Fannin St.
At about 2 p.m. Sunday, Sgt. Eddie Garcia and Patrolman Mark Cruz arrived at the residence, which had once been the headquarters of the local Knights of Columbus Lodge, and knocked on the door.
The officers were met by a woman who gave them permission to enter the house and see if they could find anything that might suggest the operation of a meth lab.
“They found a couple of propane tanks and chemicals,” Treviño said.
More officers arrived at the scene and police contacted Texas Department of Public Safety officials and investigators with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
State and federal authorities put the BPD in contact with a private company in Baytown that specializes in the disposal of dangerous and hazardous materials.
“It took about five hours for them to get here,” Treviño said.
Meanwhile, deputies with the Bee County Sheriff’s Office joined BPD officers and firefighters with the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department to rope off the area and protect the public from what could have been a deadly accident.
“Chemicals used to cook meth are dangerous,” the chief said.
“They use flammable liquids to cook the stuff and there is also a danger of explosion,” Treviño added.
The chief said he was not sure how many people were taken from the house, but the person living there told police she had no idea what the items were that the officers found. She said the items belonged to a roommate who was living there with her.
No arrests have been made in connection with the incident. Treviño said this was the first time he knows of when police found anything connected with the production of methamphetamines in a Beeville residence.
“I do know that the cleanup is very expensive,” the chief said. He figured the City of Beeville will end up paying the bill, and it will have to try to be reimbursed by the person who lived in the house.
District Attorney Martha Warner said the discovery of the lab equipment and chemicals deeply concerns her.
“They are very dangerous places for people to be around,” Warner said of the labs.
She took advantage of a free class on the methamphetamine problem offered by the federal government and learned some important lessons about the drug.
“It’s really hot right now in Beeville,” Warner said of the meth problem. And its use is increasing in some other rural areas of the Coastal Bend.
“I can’t remember a meth lab ever in town,” Warner said. Because of the dangerous and odorous fumes that are emitted from the process of cooking the drug, meth labs are usually located far from urban or residential areas.
“They have to vent the fumes,” Warner said. The gases created by the cooking process are dangerous to inhale.
“If anyone ever smells a foul odor coming from a home, report it immediately,” Warner said.
In addition, drug abusers who use meth begin deteriorating physically in just months. Their teeth fall out, they lose a lot of weight and sores start to form on the user’s skin.
The sores are ugly, open wounds that leak pus. Also, the users start to lose their hair.
Warner said some young women start using the drug to shed unwanted weight. “But they’ll also lose their teeth, their hair and their skin will break out in sores.”
The results are not pretty. In the end, a meth habit will kill the person who abuses the drug.
“That’s the sad thing. It eats their bodies up,” Warner said.
Also, meth is one of the most addictive drugs available right now.
Warner said marijuana and cocaine still are the most widely abused drugs in Bee County. But meth use is increasing.
“It’s probably going to get worse,” Warner said.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.