The meth lab next door

Ten years ago, crystal methamphetamine was a little-known phenomenon, unique because it began growing in the heartland of America before spreading toward the coasts.

It spread rapidly because it was relatively cheap to make with readily available chemicals and Sudafed (or similar) cold medicine, and it was almost instantly addicting.

I read this Rolling Stone article in 2003 and I remember thinking, “uh-oh.” I told Akron Beacon Journal police beat reporter (at the time) Andale Gross to keep an eye out for these “meth labs” popping up in the area.

Sure enough, they did.

Summit County, to its credit, was very progressive and aggressive in fighting the spread of meth labs. Sudafed was banished to behind the counter because meth cookers were stealing it so much. Eventually states started requiring the cold remedy to be removed from shelves.

But proliferate they did.

The addiction is devastating.

And so last night as I was picking my daughter up from a church function, we drove past an apparent raid on a house maybe five blocks from my house. I was tempted to stop right then, but my daughter was in the car, there a thunderstorm still hanging around and I knew the cops wouldn’t tell me anything.

The garage next to this modest house was open last night as several police and SWAT team members were on the scene.

So I called first thing this morning, and sure enough, it was a meth lab raid, complete with a SWAT team.

Almost in my backyard.

I’d have gotten the story up sooner but the website was undergoing some repairs or upgrades. Bad timing!

But if you Google “meth lab” and your town (or even your street), there’s a good chance you’ll get several hits, maybe more. I found a bunch in my neighborhood, only a block or two from my house. I’d hazard (interesting word choice) to guess that the hazardous chemicals and criminal element attracted to the meth house are a much bigger threat than the perves all the moms in suburbia get worked up about.

Look around. Chances are there’s a meth lab near you. Maybe even next door.

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