Meth labs: numbers rise/Sheriff warns
RICHLAND COUNTY, SC - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott stated that the Richland County Sheriffs Department is seeing an increase in the number of clandestine Methamphetamine laboratories and dump sites; issuing a warning to the commuity, hoteliers and the criminals.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that Statewide the use and manufacturing of methamphetamine is on the rise. The dangers associated with the manufacturing, selling and use of meth are tremendous and Richland County is starting to see an increase. The Sheriff added that the proper clean up of these labs and dumps is not occurring and is posing additional risk to the community. Without proper clean up, there are residual contaminations capable of causing serious injury or death.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that criminals need to be on notice that the Sheriff is aggressively working to stop methamphetamine use, sale and manufacturing because of the extreme dangers associated with it – criminal activity connected with the drug and the chemicals associated with it are cause for alarm. The Sheriff stated that not only has the number of meth labs (that have actually been reported) gone up, but the concerns associated with the manufacturing of the drug pose a great risk to the community and law enforcement.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that human exposure to the ingredients, used to create this drug, can cause severe illness or death. Normally, human exposure causes respiratory problems because of the acids, ammonias, lithium and ether that are used in its creation. They also pose a flammable or explosive danger. The Sheriff stated that the ingredients not only pose a danger during manufacturing of the drug but they also leave an exposure to the environment and any human beings that may come across the location where it was produced. The issues associated with the drug and the chemical’s can cause respiratory, skin and eye irritation and chemical burns can all lead to serious injury, illness or death – that is why the Sheriff is issuing this warning and will be labeling locations where the labs have been found.
Sheriff Leon Lott added that often time’s labs are cleaned improperly; leaving behind chemicals that are extremely dangerous. Sheriff Leon Lott added that because of these dangers and improperly handled clean ups, the Sheriff’s Department is working closely with the Richland County Fire Marshall’s Office and Richland County Emergency Services Division; all three agencies want to remind citizens and business owners/employees of the importance of REPORTING any suspicious activity, labs or chemicals found in hotel rooms, apartments, cars, homes, woods or fields. The Sheriff stated that it takes specific processes, of a professional, to properly clean up a methamphetamine lab.
The Sheriff added that in an effort to raise awareness to these dangers Deputies, Fire Marshalls and Emergency Services Personnel will begin labeling locations where clandestine labs have been found (see attached flier). Sheriff Leon Lott is asking for the communities assistance in finding and reporting all meth labs and in making sure that everyone knows just how dangerous these drugs and chemicals are.
Statistics connected with meth labs in Richland County:
- 2011—7 labs; of which 2 were at hotels and 1 was a mobile lab found during a traffic stop
- 2012—15 lab calls; of which 4 were to hotels
- 2013—24 lab calls; of which 6 were at hotels and 3 included deputies being exposed to the hazardous chemicals and 2 found in vehicles
- Based on these statistics, and the labs found, the Sheriff’s Department is finding an increase in labs/use; specifically labs found in hotels. Noting that more than likely hotel staff members do not realize they are cleaning up a meth lab and it never gets reported.
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