Clandestine Labs
The SBI created its Clandestine Laboratory Response Program in 1988 to respond to illegal drug laboratories such as meth labs. Agents assigned to the program receive extensive training in hazardous materials, site safety, and sampling of evidence.

The SBI has approximately 150 agents trained to respond to drug labs, including agents assigned as crime scene agents, arson agents, SRT agents, DECU agents, and general field agents. The Clandestine Laboratory Response Unit is comprised of four full-time agents who are responsible for the technical and safety aspects of responding to these sites. The agents assigned to the Clandestine Laboratory Response Unit also conduct methamphetamine laboratory awareness training for local law enforcement, fire and EMS workers, social service workers, local health departments, probation officers, and others in the community. The agents also maintain response vehicles and safety equipment.

Methamphetamine Labs
Meth labs are highly dangerous. Many of the ingredients used to make meth are toxic and combustible, and meth labs often result in fire or explosion.
In North Carolina, law enforcement officers have discovered meth labs in homes, apartments, hotels, outbuildings, businesses, vehicles, fields and woods.

Meth labs range in size from small to large, and may be stationary or mobile. Meth labs are often located in duffle bags or plastic storage totes. Sometimes, meth is manufactured in vehicles that are traveling North Carolina highways and roads. In many cases, children are found living in homes where meth is made.

Addicts can produce their own meth using cold medicines and various household products. Many of the household products used to make meth are relatively safe when used alone, but produce dangerous reactions and gases when combined during the meth manufacturing process. Meth users learn how to cook meth from other addicts or from recipes found on the internet.

Health risks Cooking meth produces dangerous by-products that can cause severe burns, skin and eye irritation and damage to kidneys. Meth labs also produce harmful gases which can irritate the nose and throat and cause lung damage. Exposure can result in headaches, dizziness, nausea and even death. Under state law, places such as homes or hotel rooms that have been used to make meth must be decontaminated before they're safe to reoccupy.

Environmental damageMeth production also damages the environment. As many as five pounds of toxic chemical waste is created each time meth is produced in a lab. Criminals who make meth often dump their toxic waste and contaminated containers, polluting our land and water.

Safety risksMeth labs are prone to fires and explosions. Meth addicts can become violent and paranoid. They often possess weapons to protect themselves and use surveillance cameras to warn them against investigators.

Recent Trends with Meth Labs
SBI agents report the emergence in North Carolina of meth labs that use the one pot or “shake and bake” method. Making meth using this process is fast, easy to set up, and produces little evidence or waste for the cook to dispose. Criminals can use this method to make the drug using a plastic soda, water or sports drink bottle and a small amount of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

Another trend in meth production is the spread of super labs that can produce more than 10 pounds of meth at a time. In most cases, methamphetamine is initially processed in Mexico, then transported as a liquid to locations in the United States for final processing and sale. Several of these labs have been located in North Carolina and across the United States, which results in the distribution of crystal methamphetamine in our state.

If You Suspect a Meth Lab
If you locate a meth lab or suspect meth production in your community, call 911 immediately. Never examine, touch, smell or move a suspected lab or suspicious container yourself.