BENTON-To the untrained eye, the discovery of a coke bottle lying in the roadway on Monday would have appeared as nothing more than discarded trash. But to a law enforcement officer, the sight was something that required immediate attention. Officers with the Pennyrile Narcotics Task force responded to the report of a suspicious object from the officer and subsequently identified it as a methamphetamine generator, an item used in the manufacture of meth.
The bottle was located on the corner of 14thand Joe Creason Drive, just a block away from Benton Elementary and Middle Schools, churches and numerous residential homes. The bottle was filled with toxic gas and sulfuric acid-- and it was lying on the ground awaiting the curiosity of a child or unsuspecting animal.
It’s a chance meeting narcotics detective Kevin Mighell says could have had dire consequences. “The acid found in meth generators such as this one has the potential to burn through the skin or cause chemical burns if inhaled,” he said. Mighell referenced a case which occurred a few years ago involving a local man who discovered a cooler on the back of his property, a cooler he thought looked too good to throw away. Upon opening the lid, toxic gases from the discarded methamphetamine lab hidden inside caused internal chemical burns, enough to send the unsuspecting man to the hospital. “Meth use has recently exploded again,” Mighell said. While he said the number of larger meth labs has declined, smaller, more mobile labs are emerging at an all-time high.
Mighell said with so many attempting to manufacture the drug in smaller, more discreet labs, discarded waste is becoming more of a hazard to the general population. Mighell said labs have been found dumped on the sides of roadways, in campgrounds, in fields and in many cases, in and around people’s homes.
The manufacture of meth takes little time. In fact, a person having taken the time to prepare all of the needed ingredients can cook up the drug in 30 to 45 minutes. Quick cook times has made disposal a random occurrence, something that has little rhyme or reason, but is more of a matter of convenience.
That’s exactly what Mighell attributes to Monday’s discovery. “I am sure this was just thrown out of a window or blew out of the back of a truck,” he said. But it’s that kind of carelessness that Mighell said is of such concern. “You could basically find this stuff anywhere,” he said. Meth generators are often made from 20 ounce and two-liter bottles. A hole is placed in the top of the lid to allow placement of a tube or hose. Contents of the bottle will appear white or tan as a result of acidic residue. Mighell said extreme caution should be exercised when approaching any questionable items. “You shouldn’t touch or get close enough to inhale any fumes,” he warned. “There have been officers who have gotten close enough to discarded labs before realizing what they were dealing and they actually passed out from the toxic chemicals.” Mighell said if in doubt, call local law enforcement to determine if an item is dangerous.
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information on methamphetamine manufacturing or trafficking to contact the MCSO Detective Division at 270-527-3112 or 270-527-1333 or call Crimestoppers at 527-COPS. Help prevent further incidents that put local families at risk.