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One-pot meth plague on rise in NH
U.S. Drug Enforcement agents and agents from New Hampshire demonstrate the danger of one-pot methamphetamine laboratories at the New Hampshire fire academy. (DEA)
"We have found them out in the woods; we've found them in vehicles; we've found them in multi-family dwellings; we've found them in hotels; we've found them in commercial buildings. That's how portable they are," said Trooper 1st Class Matthew Partington of New Hampshire State Police.
-- A Thornton man was arrested after allegedly cooking meth just feet from a child's portable crib.
-- A 56-year-old Gilford man was arrested on felony drug charges after a raid by local, county, state and federal authorities.
Then, on April 6, 2010, authorities encountered an entirely new way of producing meth, during a raid at a Franklin apartment building. "They call it the one-pot or the shake-and-bake method," Partington said. "It's a much easier process but a lot more volatile."
But what began as a Lakes Region problem has spread across the state, Partington said. "One person will teach a few of their friends how to do it. Those friends teach other people. It's like a pyramid," he said.
"We're not talking about the 'Breaking Bad' traditional or older-school labs that are creating large amounts of meth, clearly for distribution," he said, citing the popular TV show in which a chemistry teacher becomes a drug kingpin. "You can make this stuff in a very small bottle at this point."
"You can have materials that are discarded on the side of the road, and somebody's picking up the trash on the side of the road, and they could shake up a bottle that ends up exploding on them," he said.
This new kind of meth production also poses a risk to first responders - and unsuspecting neighbors - who may be exposed to toxic chemicals or flash fires, if the materials ignite, he said.
"I don't think most people realize how dangerous the chemicals are and how volatile they can be," said Thornton Police Chief Aimee Moller, where police discovered a one-pot lab just four feet from a child's crib.
Meth use is not confined to one demographic, Moller said. "We're seeing some early 20s up into 40s and 50s," she said.
The toll on the community can be enormous, Adams said, from the costs of health care and the justice system to the local businesses that have to be evacuated while first responders clear a dangerous scene.
Then there's the human cost, how it wrecks the lives of addicts and their families, he said. "Meth takes over their life, and that's all they care about.
"They don't care about eating. They don't care about taking care of themselves. It's just their next hit."
"Methamphetamine is one of the most addictive drugs that is out there. It breaks down the human body. I've seen that. I've seen it break apart families," he said.
"To see these young kids sitting in apartments where drugs are spread out all over the place in the middle of the day...," Adams said. "Not only is it dangerous - they can grab these drugs and consume them - but this is their life. This is the environment that they're living in.
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