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'Shake-and-bake' meth labs on the rise

Posted August 25, 2009

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— Only a few years ago, making methamphetamine required an elaborate lab - with filthy containers simmering over open flames, cans of flammable liquids and hundreds of pills.

The process gave off foul odors, sometimes sparked explosions and was so hard to conceal that dealers often "cooked" their drugs in rural areas.

But authorities say they have seen a shift toward drug makers using a "shake-and-bake" approach, using a faster, cheaper and much simpler method with ingredients that can be carried in a backpack and mixed just about anywhere.

"It just takes a small area to make, if they want to make a small amount, but that's what's so bad about it," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. "They can make it in a motel room, they can make it in a room next door to their children, and a lot of people do this with kids in the house."

The "shake-and-bake" approach has become popular because it requires a relatively small number of pills of the decongestant pseudoephedrine - an amount easily obtained under even the toughest anti-meth laws that have been adopted across the nation, including North Carolina, to restrict large purchases of some cold medication.

In North Carolina, there has been a decline in the number of operations since restrictions were put in place in 2005.

Authorities say the "shake-and-bake" labs began turning up in Johnston County two years ago. So far this year, authorities there have busted 14 operations, nearly all of which were the "shake and bake."

Wake County, on the other hand, recently had its ninth bust in seven years. It has yet to have a "shake-and-bake" operation.

Other states, however, report a new surge tied to the smaller, more mobile operations.

Harrison said it is important to remain vigilant and well-informed.

"I can assure you, it's probably out there," Harrison said. "We just haven't found it yet."


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  • Bendal1 Aug 26, 2009

    Drug companies will fight tooth and nail to avoid having pseudoephadrine made a prescription only drug. It is a big cash cow for them and requiring a doctor's visit to get it will decrease their profit margin on a very lucrative drug.

  • streetfightinman Aug 26, 2009

    Is'nt it amazing how a criminal mind works, money is the root of all evil and,ahh politics.

  • tran Aug 26, 2009

    While pseudophedrine certainly helps relieve annoying congestion, it's really more effective at relieving debilitating sinus headaches. Flonase can relieve congestion but it can cause headaches and Flonase is prescription.

    Pseudophedrine's predecessor, Phenylpropanolamine was discontinued as Sudafed's active ingredient in 2000. Phenylpropanolamine was much more effective than pseudophedrine. Soon after this substitution, meth labs began to appear. Phenylephrine just doesn't work.

    It is likely to become prescription only due to the shake and bake labs because now any amount could be suspect.

  • photo Aug 26, 2009

    >There are PLENTY of other products easily available, with no hassel, that will help a person with congestion.

    Uh, could you name one? All that I know of either contain pseudoephedrine or don't work (anything with PE in the name)

  • Bendal1 Aug 26, 2009

    That's a stupid headline. The "shake and bake" method does not need a lab; that's the whole point. Someone can make meth with this method in their basement, in their car, at work, just about anywhere. It also doesn't need a lot of pseudoephadrine, making the "fill out 4 pages of paperwork to get some cold medicine" law effectively useless.

    How do you tell if someone is making meth in their home? Look for 2 liter bottles with evil smelling deposits in the garbage, lots of people visiting them at odd hours, occasional explosions and the "meth look" on those living there.

  • shortcake53 Aug 26, 2009

    How would someone be able to tell if a neighbor was making meth?
    What signs would you look for? Anyone??

  • Me again Aug 26, 2009

    Amazing...these people can't pass a Chemistry class but they can think of ways to make drugs.

  • james27613 Aug 25, 2009

    Easy fix for these illegal drug mixers: DEATH PENALTY.

    For all these drug lab owners and operators, those that import drugs into the USA, etc.

    DEATH PENALTY plain and simple.

    Do the crime, you don't get to breath another breath.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Aug 25, 2009

    People will continue to do any illegal activity as long as the punishment makes the crime worth it. Make the punishment a couple of decades in prison, with no early parole, and that should make a very good dent in the problem.

  • howdiditgettothis Aug 25, 2009

    Your understaffed pharmacy does not have time to deal with the hassel of keeping up with criminals who DO have all day to drive from pharmacy to pharmacy getting this stuff....(and believe me they do).

    There are PLENTY of other products easily available, with no hassel, that will help a person with congestion.

    Stop making pseudoephedrine (or make it presciption only) and save everyone the hassle.

    Plus,were it by prescription, busting folks would give tougher conviction sentencing.