Utah Department of Public Safety

Investigations - Methamphetamine - How It's Made

meth ingredientsThe precursor and main ingredient of Methamphetamine is ephedrine. This chemical is contained in many legal drugs, including bronchodilators, like Vick's Inhalant, decongestants, like Nyquil Nighttime Cold Medications, diet pills, and therapeutic agents like Dioxin. Because of the restraints placed on the sales and possession of ephedrine, operators of Clandestine Methamphetamine Labs started extracting pseudoephedrine from legally produced over the counter diet pills, decongestants, and bronchodilator, such as "Mini-Thins", "MaxAlert", "Sudafed", "Pharmacist Value Suphedrine", etc.. While one or two empty bottles in the trash might indicate a bad cold or sinus problem, anything beyond that is a possible clue of lab activity.

Other legally purchased items which have been found in Clandestine Labs are Iodine Crystals, Red Phosphorous, (Sometimes extracted from matchbooks), Isopropyl Alcohol, and Red Devil Lye. The Equipment used for manufacturing, in the State of Utah, is as simple as having Coleman stoves, aquariums pumps or Swamp cooler pumps, several pieces of glassware, rubber tubing, Pyrex dishes, and mason jars. Cooking time is reduced, from 24 to 36 hours, using the P-2-P method, to as little as, 4 to 6 hours, using the new cold or matchbook method (which appears to be a unique Utah method).

meth labThe manufacturing process is usually conducted in but not limited to, rental properties, apartments, storage sheds, and hotel/motels. The dangers of these Clandestine Labs are not only to the cooks themselves but to the general public, and law enforcement. Clandestine Labs have been responsible for exposure by poisonous gases, and some have resulted in large fires. Loss of property is estimated in the millions and loss of life is all to common and the pain and suffering can not be measured.

Methamphetamine trafficking and abuse in the United States have been on the rise over the past few years, as indicated by investigative, seizure, price, purity, and abuse data. As a result, this drug is having a devastating impact in many communities across the nation. Although more common in western areas of the country, this impact increasingly is being felt in areas not previously familiar with the harmful effects of this powerful stimulant.

Illicit methamphetamine, which is almost exclusively methamphetamine hydrochloride, is sold in powder, ice, and tablet forms. Powder methamphetamine, the most common form available in the United States, is produced domestically and also is smuggled into the country from Mexico. Traditionally, Asian-produced ice was almost exclusively found in Guam, Hawaii, and parts of California; however, increased domestic production of this form of methamphetamine has increased availability to several other areas of the country previously untouched by exposure to ice. Methamphetamine tablets, primarily manufactured in Burma, have been smuggled into the United States, especially to northern California and the Los Angeles area.
Source: DEA, "Drug Intelligence Brief: The Forms of Methamphetamine," April 2002

The Signs of a Possible Meth Lab are:

meth ingredients 2
  1. Stained coffee filters
  2. Empty pseudoephedrine blister packs
  3. Strong solvent or ammonia odors*
  4. Acetone
  5. Toluene
  6. Denatured alcohol
  7. Red Devil Lye
  8. Red Phosphorous*
  9. Lithium batteries
  10. Anhydrous Ammonia*
  11. Heet or gas-line treatments with methyl alcohol
  12. Drain cleaner with sulfuric acid
  13. Heat source*
  14. Glassware (beakers or mason jars)
  15. Coffee grinder with white powder residue*
  16. Stained tubing*
  17. Hypodermic syringes
  18. Written recipes*

*Items to be aware of but not in photo

[Last Update - Friday, 08-Mar-2013 16:25:37 MST]