Region 8 Police Take Extra Precautions Busting Meth Labs - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Heather Flanigan Reports

Region 8 Police Take Extra Precautions Busting Meth Labs

May 13, 2005 – Posted at 4:45 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- According to the 2000 National Household Survey on drug abuse, an estimated 8.8 million people have tried methamphetamine at some time in their lives. That's keeping law enforcement busy trying to stop it, but just how safe are officers from the hazardous materials they're trying to keep off the streets?

When Meth first became a problem in the 1980's and 1990's, many narcotics officers identified chemicals with sniff tests and even dumped waste they should have never been handling. Today, officers take more precautions.

“When we go to the Meth lab you've got to wear a Tyvex suit,” said Sgt. Jim Chamber of the Drug Task Force, “They are a chemical barrier between your body and the elements in the air.”

And there are plenty of chemicals to be exposed to. Most of the Meth labs busted in Region 8 are known as Nazi Meth labs...cooks use dangerous anhydrous ammonia as an ingredient

“It's a gaseous substance that easily breathed into your lungs and it really absorbs water, it adheres to it. So when it goes into your lungs, it attaches itself to the inside of your lungs,” said Sgt. Chambers.

Officers also wear an air pack when first going into a Meth lab. Once air is determined breathable, they switch over to an air purifier respirator, which they wear at all times.

“OCEA has guidelines that tells you what to do. Everybody that works Meth lab has to be certified to work Meth labs,” said Sgt. Chambers, “They have to go through a DEA certifier.”

The drug task force always has a minimum of two people working a lab, but they can't just throw away the chemicals.

“All the chemicals from Meth lab have to be disposed by DEA contractors. Anytime we find a Meth lab we call a contractor and they come from little rock, Memphis, Springfield, Missouri and even as far as Oklahoma City,” said Sgt. Chambers.

The Drug Task Force in Craighead County stays busy. They bust on the average, one to two Meth labs a week.

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