The "Shake and Bake" method, whose name is derived from the process of putting the chemicals in a container and shaking them up and letting them cook, has increased the number of busts in Dunklin County from 10 per year to 10 per month, according to Lt. Tim Trowbridge, commander of the Dunklin County Drug Task Force.
"There for a while, the meth labs, for [Dunklin County] really dropped off the map," Trowbridge said, citing the restrictions on Sudafed and anhydrous ammonia.
"In 2007 and 2008, we really had an increase in what we call 'Mexican Ice,' 'Mexican Ice' is basically large amounts of methamphetamine that are produced in Mexico, California, and those sort of places. It is methamphetamine [with] an extra step where a water molecule attaches to the actual meth and gives it a crystal appearance. When you get down to it, it is basically the same thing." Trowbridge said. "There was a huge influx of Mexican Ice and that was our big problem."
Trowbridge continued, "Since this year, we are making at least 10 to 15 attempt to manufacture arrests a month. We have gone from 10 labs per year to 10 labs per month."
According to Trowbridge, the "shake and bake" method has been around for several years, however, it has only became popular in the area recently. Trowbridge added that he believes the popularity increase is due to information accessed from the Internet.
"Now everybody knows how to do it," Trowbridge said. "I think [the popularity also] has to do with the prices. There for a while, it got cheaper to buy 'Mexican Ice' than it was to go through the process of making the labs. Now days, with the 'shake and bake' method, everybody can do it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make it. You can just basically put all the ingredients into a soda bottle and shake it up and let it cook.
"Before, it took several hundred pills to make a batch of meth. Now days, you can pull three grams out of one box of Sudafed, so it makes it easier to run to your local pharmacy and pick up a box of Sudafed and go home and cook dope with it."
Trowbridge also said that although the number of producers has increased, the public continues to be a major contributor in the war against meth.
"The public continues to feed us information about who is doing what, when, and where," Trowbridge said. "As long as we have community involvement, we are still able to keep the arrests up. It takes the community behind us and people being vigilant in what they see and smell."
Trowbridge said that if a resident suspects that their neighbor is making methamphetamine, they should call the authorities right away.
Signs to be aware of include:
* Frequent visitors at all times of the day or night;
* Activity at the house being at odd hours or late at night;
* Occupants appear unemployed, yet seem to have plenty of money and pay bills with cash;
* Occupants are unfriendly, appear secretive about activities;
* Occupants watch cars suspiciously when they pass;
* Extensive security at the home;
* Blackened windows or curtains that are always down;
* Occupants go outside the house to smoke cigarettes;
* Chemical odors coming from the house, garage, or detached buildings;
* Garbage containing numerous bottles and containers;
* Coffee filters, bed sheets, or other material stained from filtering red phosphorus or other chemicals;
* Occupants set their garbage for pick up in another neighbor's collection area, and/or;
* Evidence of chemical or waste dumping, such as burn pits or "dead spots" in the yard.
Any single activity may or may not be sole proof that drug dealing or methamphetamine manufacturing is occurring. However, a combination of the following may be reason for concern.
Trowbridge also said that if anyone comes across a suspicious looking bottle, they should call the authorities and stay away from the bottle.
The official added that the "shake and bake" method is just as dangerous as previous methods.