Meth labs are a growing epidemic. The Floyd County Sheriff’s Department is making busts on almost a weekly basis.
The most recent incident happened Monday, May 3, when the New River Regional Drug Task Force and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, in a joint investigation, searched a trailer at 100 Blue Ridge Mtn. Community Road, Lot 12. A working meth lab, along with other items used to manufacture methamphetamines, was found.
Members of the Virginia State Police Clandestine Lab were called in to clean up the lab. Charges are pending.
Meth labs are becoming an increasingly local problem. “Most of the arrests we make are local people; they aren’t people driving through the county,” Floyd County Sheriff Shannon Zeman told the Press.
While the term “meth lab” might conger images of a mad scientist with banks of high tech equipment, “most of the time,” Zeman said, “we find a shake-and-bake operation.” The lab could be as low tech as putting ingredients in a plastic soda bottle and shaking them. The chemical formation can be dangerous.
“We have to have private contractors come in for the cleanup,” Zeman said. “If the drug task force initiates the investigation, they pay for it; if it’s our investigation, we pay for it.” Zeman added, “We don’t have anything in the budget for those costs.”
Mike Bowman, of the New River Regional Task Force, said cleanup costs for a one-bottle lab “will run from $2,000 to $2,200. If there are more bottles, the costs go up.”
Zeman said if the bust involves a “mobile lab,” bottles transported in a vehicle, “our investigation may also lead to a residence, which could involve another cleanup.”
A cleanup team usually consists of five people, two who provide relief. A cleanup can take from four to 12 hours, Zeman stated. “The suits cover the whole body. There is no air, and they overheat.”
A typical bust involves one or two bottles, but there can be more. “There was one in Craig County with seven bottles,” Zeman said.
“It’s a very big expense, but the cost no one is talking about is if there are children in a home with meth labs,” Zeman said. “These children are taken into foster care, and the cost goes through the roof.”
By WANDA COMBS
Published: May 5, 2011
By Roger Mannon