Meth labs coming to neighborhood near you?

Smaller meth labs showing up in apartments, hotels


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Methamphetimine is not only an addictive, it's dangerous to make.

As police are finding meth labs in homes, apartment, even hotel rooms, they are putting people at risk who think they have no contact with illegal drugs.

In August, the explosion of a meth lab in Park Place wrecked several apartments. In the last few days, meth labs discovered at a Baymeadows hotel and a Hodges Boulevard apartment complex forced people to evacuate, and some still have not been allowed back into their units.

And a meth lab investigation in Middleburg last month was what led to the shooting of two Clay County detectives -- one fatally.

The growing problem of meth use and production concerns Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford.

"The danger is significant," Rutherford said. "The criminal manufacturers have figured out how to do it on a much smaller scale."

Meth production can be expensive to anyone who comes too close -- even without their knowledge.

"We know the cost to an individual life when someone gets hooked on drugs can be extraordinary. Now drug makers and dealers are passing on other costs -- like the ones to this business forced to pay for cleanup," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Assistant Chief Larry Schmitt said as the bomb squad and Fire-Rescue's hazmat team worked at the Woodhollow apartments.

The cleanup crew working on cleaning up Homewood Suites since Monday's meth lab bust is hoping that hotel can reopen Saturday night.

"It will contaminate any walls, light fixtures --- any porous structure: furniture, drapes, carpet," said Dave Kress of Restoration Specialists.

Rutherford said citizens should be alert to the possibility of a meth lab in any neighborhood.

"The biggest telltale sign is the smell," Rutherford said. "You will have a rancid, bitter smell. If you pick that up, call the police and let us look into it."

Anyone who suspects a meth lab in their neighborhood is asked to their local law enforcement agency or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.