Police in Fort Lauderdale responding to a domestic call at a South Federal Highway motel were handed a bonus prize this weekend: a small-scale meth lab.
The cops were called to the Relax Inn yesterday, where apparently no measure of relaxation was going on (FALSE ADVERTISING?). A women and two men were allegedly involved in a verbal brouhaha and the management wanted them out. As police escorted the group to get their things, the woman ratted on one of the men, telling police he was cooking meth inside the motel room.
Sure enough, police found a cook in-progress. And although the police report doesn't come out and say it, a small change meth operation was likely a "shake and bake" set up, an easy, low-cost way that's been all the rage among tweakers in the Midwest for the last five years or so.
Meth itself is going through a kind of renaissance out there in the rest of the country, and not exactly thanks to Breaking Bad. See, here in South Florida, where that good-good Colombia nose caffeine is basically available for sale in every fast food rest room and high school parking lot, uppers are an easy commodity. In the American heartland, people have had to get creative.
Back when bikers gangs first started cooking meth using the anhydrous ammonia found in fertilizer, the smell from the operation was so strong they could really only cook in rural areas to avoid detection. A later popular method -- called "Red P" -- used the striker plates from matches and flares combined with pseudoephedrine from your standard pharmacy-stocked sinus clearer. The fumes from Red P are odorless, but also highly toxic.
From the meth heads point of view, the real problem with both styles is that they involve a lot of burning over a long period of time -- usually 4 to 16 hours.
Then, someone discovered the "shake and bake." Using a two-liter pop bottle and $100 bucks, a user can make five grams of meth in about an hour. All they have to do is toss fertilizer, lye, pseudoephedrine pills, battery lithium and Coleman fuel into the bottle and heat it up. Because meth heads can cook the stuff quick and easy, they've been known to do it anywhere -- at home, work, in hotel rooms, even in backpacks while they walk around.
Which is the real problem for the rest of us straight-arrow Joe and Jane Citizens. If a bottle of this stuff is active and it accidently is opened, it'll shoot flames like a flamethrower. Seeing how most of the folk stupid enough to jerry-rig these kinds of set ups are usually already in orbit on some drugs anyway, explosions and fires are pretty common. The folks at the Relax Inn are lucky police were able to clean up the lab without any unfortunately fireworks.