Clandestine Labs
The SBI created its Clandestine Laboratory Response Program in 1988 to respond to illegal drug laboratories such as meth labs. Agents assigned to the program receive extensive training in hazardous materials, site safety and confined space operations.

The SBI has approximately 150 agents trained to respond to drug labs, including eight full-time agents who are responsible for the technical and safety aspects of responding to these sites. Full-time agents also conduct how-to-spot-meth-labs training for local law enforcement, first responders, social service workers and others. The agents also maintain response vehicles and safety equipment.

Clandestine lab response teams include crime scene agents, arson agents, crime lab agents, SRT agents, DECU agents and general field agents. The SBI currently has clandestine laboratory response vehicles located in Brunswick, Cabarrus, Catawba, Guilford, Jackson, Wake and Wilson counties.

Methamphetamine Labs
Meth labs are highly dangerous. Many of the ingredients used to make meth are toxic and combustible, and meth labs often result in fire or explosion.

In North Carolina, law enforcement officers have discovered meth labs in homes, apartments, hotels, outbuildings, businesses, vehicles, fields and woods.

Meth labs range in size from small to large, and may be stationary or mobile. Meth labs are often located in duffle bags or plastic storage totes. Sometimes, meth is manufactured in vehicles that are traveling North Carolina highways and roads. In many cases, children are found living in homes where meth is made.

Addicts can produce their own meth using cold medicines and various household products. Many of the household products used to make meth are relatively safe when used alone, but produce dangerous reactions and gases when combined during the meth manufacturing process. Meth users learn how to cook meth from other addicts or from recipes found on the internet.

Health risks
Cooking meth produces dangerous byproducts that can cause severe burns, skin and eye irritation and damage to kidneys. Meth labs also produce harmful gases which can irritate the nose and throat and cause lung damage. Exposure can result in headaches, dizziness, nausea and even death. Under state law, places such as homes or hotel rooms that have been used to make meth must be decontaminated before they're safe to reoccupy.

Environmental damage
Meth production also damages the environment. As many as five pounds of toxic chemical waste is created each time meth is produced in a lab. Criminals who make meth dump their toxic waste and contaminated containers, polluting our land and water.

Safety risks
Meth labs are prone to fires and explosions. Meth addicts can become violent and paranoid. They often possess weapons to protect themselves and use surveillance cameras to warn them against investigators.

Recent Trends with Meth Labs
SBI agents report the emergence in North Carolina of meth labs that use the one pot or shake and bake method. Making meth using this process is fast, easy to set up and produces little evidence or waste for the cook to dispose. Criminals can use this method to make the drug using a plastic soda, water or sports drink bottle and a small amount of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

Another trend in meth production is the spread of super labs that can produce more than 10 pounds of meth at a time. In some cases, methamphetamine is initially processed in Mexico, then transported as a liquid to locations in the United States for final processing and sale. Several of these labs have been located in North Carolina and across the United States, which results in the distribution of methamphetamine ice in our state.

If You Suspect a Meth Lab
If you locate a meth lab or suspect meth production in your community, call 911 immediately. Never examine, touch, smell or move a suspected lab or suspicious container yourself.