Rolling meth lab

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Methamphetamine crystals

A rolling meth lab is a transportable laboratory that is used to produce illegally methamphetamine.[1] Rolling meth labs are often moved to a secluded location where the strong, toxic fumes of methamphetamine manufacture cannot be detected and where the toxic manufacturing byproducts can be discarded.[2]They are sometimes designed to manufacture the drug while the lab is traveling.[3]

Transportation hazard[edit]

The process of "cooking" methamphetamine can be dangerous as it involves poisonous, flammable, and explosive chemicals: in November 2001, a rolling meth lab that was carrying anhydrous ammonia exploded on Interstate 24 in southwest Kentucky,[4] prompting law enforcement to shut down the freeway. Such incidents have not only injured the meth producers, but have injured passing motorists and police officers, who are also exposed to dangerous fumes.[5]

Toxic effects and dangerous remnants[edit]

Trash left from an illegal meth lab. Meth lab waste is extremely hazardous and toxic waste cleanup is a major problem for authorities and property owners. Common waste includes toluene, ammonia, soda bottles, kitty litter, lithium batteries, ether, matches, and pseudoephedrine blister packs.[6]

As with a home lab, so the remaining fumes from a crude moving methamphetamine lab can be extremely toxic. The surfaces of the vehicle's interior can be coated or impregnated with the poisonous residue, rendering the vehicle worthless.[7] Vehicles stolen for the single purpose of manufacture of the drug are most often considered contaminated and unusable,[8] as exposure to the by-products of the chemical reaction remaining in the vehicle is frequently too dangerous to attempt decontamination.[9] A further complication is that the "cooking" methods for meth frequently change so the proper remediation for a given lab site cannot be assumed from previous known lab methods.[10] Law enforcement Hazmat teams assigned to dispose of the toxic materials must be cautious and receive training on a regular basis.

Law enforcement and detection[edit]

Rolling meth labs can be concealed on or in vehicles as large as 18 wheelers or as small as motorcycles. Rolling labs are more difficult to detect than stationary ones and can be often hidden amidst legal cargo on big trucks.[4] Many recent rolling lab discoveries were the result of an officer just "stumbling" onto them.[7] Improved officer training and checking suspicious vehicles with K-9 units may allow increased detection.[11]

Indicators that further investigation is needed[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff writer."Methamphetamine, meth-lab assessment and clean-up." Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies Inc. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  2. ^ Staff writer."Methamphetamine and Related Crime: The Impacts of Methamphetamine Abuse." (PDF) Northwest Washington Office of National Drug Control Policy. Published March 2006. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  3. ^ Staff writer."Alleged Rolling Meth Lab Closes Local Ohio Interstate For Hours." Drug Published November 11, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  4. ^ a b Bootie Cosgrove-Mather."Rolling Meth Labs In Vogue – Methamphetamine Makers Turn Vehicles Into Rolling Drug Labs." CBS News. Published July 17, 2002. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  5. ^ Staff writer."Meth Lab Explosion on I-10 Injures Four." WAFB. Published April 29, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  6. ^ Methamphetamine Laboratory Identification and Hazards, U.S. Department of Justice,
  7. ^ a b Joy Howe."“Moving Meth Lab” Rolls Out New Problems." WJBF. Published November 11, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  8. ^ Kathy Helms-Hughes."Merchants called on to help stamp out meth labs." Elizabethton Star Online. Archives. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  9. ^ Staff writer."Woman's Car Stolen, Used As Rolling Meth Lab." Published November 10, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  10. ^ MDH-MPCA."Clandestine Drug Lab General Cleanup Guidance." (PDF) Minnesota Department of Health & Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. January 1, 2006 Version. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.
  11. ^ Jerry Manter."Police discover 'rolling meth lab' after possible DUI traffic stop." Created April 2, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-14.

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