Wilder: New Methods, Old Habits Behind Increase In Meth Labs

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Cannon County Sheriff's Department Chief Investigator Charlie Wilder says there are several reasons meth making appears to be increasing in Cannon County again.

“I think number one, there is a new method of cooking dope now. It’s called shake and bake. The one pot, I’ve heard it called the Fentrol method. There’s several different street names for it but I think that’s probably the biggest reason. It’s quick and it’s easy,” Wilder said.

“The second reason is that a lot of our old defendants have rotated back out to the street now and then they’re bringing back their old habits and then that’s just what they’re doing.”

Wilder said the “shake and bake” method simplifies the process of making the drug. Using the one-pot method means that meth cooks can make meth in one sealed container which is generally flipped upside-down to cause the reaction needed to turn several toxic ingredients into meth. This method generally produces meth in smaller quantity, but doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

“The big difference is that you don’t need the iodine and you don’t need the red phosphorus,” Wilder said. “What they’re using now is ammonia or an ammonia derivative. It comes in capsule form and it can be obtained through items you buy at Wal-Mart. Instant cold compresses, of course you can get ammonia nitrates to you know fertilizer and it’s just the ammonia minus the nitrate. They’re taking that or either a Coleman fuel can and of course ephedrine and lithium metal. You can also use sodium metal. Both those are heavy metals. Both of those metals are very volatile and they will combust and explode when they come in contact with water. You also use a little water in this method and it creates an internal combustion, explosion if you will.

“That’s what actually generates the cooking process and you can do all this in one single two-liter Mountain Dew bottle so it doesn’t take a lot of paraphernalia. You and I can do it while we’re going down the road and then when we get to the end of the journey and the things done you just gas it off in the traditional way using hydrochloric gas. Poof methamphetamine.”

The biggest danger in relation to this method is the fact that it is fast and portable. So portable in fact, that it is most common to find people using this method to make meth in their car. They generally drive around while the meth is being made to release the fumes and when the process is over, some 40 minutes later, they simply chuck the used container filled with toxic chemical residue out of the window. Aside from the environmental impact this has, it also poses a hazard to children that naturally want to explore and pick up the things they find.

When asked to explain why people would take a drug like meth, Wilder said:

“It’s a stimulant. It’s a very strong stimulant. It’s like super unleaded compared to regular gasoline and it’s like super cocaine.

“If you like the buzz you get from cocaine, if you can stay up for 12 hours with a stimulated high from cocaine, you can stay up 24, 48 hours on methamphetamine and all the people over the years that I have dealt with, all the ones I’ve interviewed and we sit down and we’ve talked very candidly about it is they just tell you they get a very euphoric feeling from this thing. Man they’re 10 foot tall. They’re bullet proof. A lot of their senses are excited. The endorphins in the brain act in different ways and they just, it’s just a feel good type of drug while you’re high but for every you know crescendo there’s also drop off so for every hill there’s a valley.

Increased training and awareness has made the sheriff’s department better equipped in locating and shutting down meth labs, Wilder said.

“Nearly every one of our personnel are meth lab certified. The ones that are not actually meth lab certified have been through a methamphetamine school to make them aware so that they can see things. Hey that bottle doesn’t look right. Hey you’ve got some items over here that I’ve seen before and this tells me there’s some meth stuff so all of our people are educated on that. They’re very alert. Just doing basic patrol and answering calls is how you find a lot of these.

“That’s what happened Monday morning,” Wilder continued, referring to last week's bust of a meth lab described by Sheriff Billy Nichols as "extremely dangerous."

Wilder said: “One of our officers was dispatched out to a fire and when he got there he says I don’t see a fire but boy all this stuff doesn’t look right and he knocks on the door to make sure the homeowner or the residents are okay and a door is standing wide open and it’s (meth making material) in plain view. He can look and he can see some things that he’s recognized through the training that the sheriff has got for them and he called his supervisor. His supervisor called me and we got a search warrant and we went and did our thing.

Do most people that make meth make it to sell it or make it to do it themselves?

Wilder says while most people who make meth start out thinking they will get rich, they quickly end up in the poor house.

“It’s been my experience; once again through talking with some of these meth cooks very candidly, that they set out making meth to be a millionaire. ‘Hey man it don’t take a lot of investment and now I’ve got 10, 12, 20 grams of meth, I can really make a lot of money quick. I’m going to do just a little bit though because I like to feel good too’ and before you know it there’s absolutely zero profit. Okay. It’s all investment. Now you’ve got all your buddies bringing you stuff to make it with just so you can get high for free. We’ve never got a meth lab yet from any size where the offender had anything, nothing. I mean he’s dead ass broke. These folks here (Monday) were living in a trailer that was powered by an extension cord from the next door neighbor’s house. They couldn’t even pay a light bill, a phone bill or anything.”

Wilder says meth addiction also leads to other crime.

“You know the cooking of meth, that’s a crime and distributing of it, that’s also a crime but meth is a lot broader than that because the guys and gals who are hooked on this stuff, they’re going to supply their habit. They can’t hold a steady job like you or I do because of their drug addiction so they’re forced to do illegal things so a lot of our break-ins, a lot of our petty thefts are done just to support a drug habit and meth is the devil man. I’ve seen it take a lot of really good people and just put them in positions that they would never have done had it not have been for that addiction.”

However, the dangers of meth extend far beyond those who make and use it, Wilder said.

“Meth poses a danger not only to those that do it but to people that are in the vicinity while they’re making it. The risk to the next door neighbor is great because that thing can explode. The risk to the officer that makes a traffic stop if (the maker) he has this crap in his trunk, the risk of explosion is very great. Once again we still have the phosphine gas that’s being generated from this stuff. We’ve still got officers that have to go in and number one be police and then number two be a hazmat team. Well when they go in to be a police officer, they don’t have all that personal protection equipment so they’re getting contaminated.

"A very good friend of mine who is now chief deputy in Warren County, Tommy Myers, has just now started to recover from a very severe lung disease that he got and they’re thinking that’s because of the number of meth labs he’s worked and Tommy’s a great guy and has been through a terrible tragedy because of him doing his public service work.”
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