In Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery, many characters are caught in the whirlwind of drugs. Ric Delgado, once a narcotics detective in Los Angeles, is all too familiar with the problems that arise with drug abuse. When he moved to Lake City, Nevada, a small desert community near Death Valley, he had hoped to rid himself of the dangers of drugs. Unfortunately, like many small communities around the US, Lake City is not immune to the rising dangers of drugs. When the stakes are raised, Ric Delgado decides to fight the war on drugs in a big way.
For the past fifteen years, illicit or clandestine methamphetamine labs (“clan labs”) in the United States have declined since laws were put into place to limit the availability of the ingredients required to manufacture methamphetamines. Due to the restrictions, large-scale productions in Mexico thrived as drug cartels added meth to their already booming business of moving heroin, cocaine, and marijuana across the border.
But the landscape changed again in 2005. With the help of the United States, the Mexican government began fighting the meth problem. The government banned imports of pseudo-ephedrine (one of the main ingredients in meth). Current trends show that meth production is now making it’s reemergence in many California desert counties.
American meth makers have found a way around many of the laws created to prevent meth production, including a technique called “smurfing” where groups of people go to pharmacies to purchase small quantities of pseudoephedrine and then pool the score together.
But law enforcement isn’t just seeing a rise in small clan labs. Larger “super labs,” once only seen south of the border are now popping up in the United States. Last September a super lab was discovered in Riverside County, California. It wasn’t a traditional meth production facility, but was producing a refined liquid meth into crystal form.
We are far from winning the war on drugs, but Ric Delgado knows the dangers of a meth lab extend to more than the drug abusers. Anyone living in or near a clan lab is exposed to immediate dangers and chemical contamination. The toxic nature of the ingredients leaves behind a hazardous waste. When the ingredients are combined, then can ignite, causing explosions, fires and the release of toxic fumes. Many times the waste material is dumped outdoors, causing damage to the environment and drinking water.
Learn the signs of a potential Meth lab, including a strong smells, residents never putting their trash out, lab materials surrounding the property, and laboratory glassware or rubber tubing being carried into the residence. If you see signs of a meth lab in your neighborhood, please report it immediately. For more information visit the following sites:
This post first published in March 2011