Local News

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

Posted August 25, 2009 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2009 7:03 p.m. EDT

— 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."