Meth goes mobile as cooks become even cannier

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In April, the University of Auckland released a study into the meth ‘hot-spots’ around the country where P labs are more likely to be found. Taking out the top five were Helensville, Herekino (North), Hamilton Central, Opanuku (West Auckland) and Newton (Central Auckland).

Yet the terrifying thing about meth is that it can literally spring up everywhere - no longer is the drug confined to the stereotypical run down home in a lower income suburb. At the same time, the methods smugglers are using to bring consignments of the drug are becoming more daring. Just this month, 49 kilos were found in a container of safety lights from Mexico. With its $50 million street value, this seizure is the largest ever made in the South Island. Although this pales in comparison with the $100 million worth of meth intercepted in Auckland this year, disguised as concrete and hidden inside the bases of outdoor umbrella stands.

And when it comes to meth labs, these canny cooks are even more inventive with where they set up. Meth is increasingly becoming mobile and either the manufacturers move from motel to motel or between storage units, while vehicles are also becoming travelling labs. The ingenuity is frightening, as shown by the unusual places where labs have been found – although to set your mind at relative rest, not all of these are New Zealand examples. 

One sophisticated meth lab used six shipping containers and three caravans to create an end-to-end manufacturing process.

A fire in Ohio killed one person due to a clandestine meth lab. It’s believed a visitor brought the materials for the one-pot method in a shopping bag.

Wal-Mart now has a notorious reputation for meth incidents, including one Oklahoma woman who actually gathered her ingredients in the store and started cooking on a store shelf.

Meth has even gone rural in an old combine and in grain bins and in rural holiday homes.

Underground in name and nature, a meth ‘cave’ was discovered under the concrete remains of an abandoned rendering plant.

And finally, two lucky punters who gambled on the contents of an abandoned storage unit were shocked to find chemicals inside that police believed were used to manufacture meth.

Obviously meth labs are not hiding at every corner but it pays to be aware that they are not always in the places you may suspect. It’s up to all of us to be vigilant and know the signs that point to a meth lab in production. 

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