'One pot' meth cooking method could explode onto San Diego drug scene

DEA agents tell Team 10 about warning signs

SAN DIEGO - The meth menace is far from over, now that a method of cooking methamphetamine makes the drug easier to produce. It’s called the “one pot” or “shake and bake” method.

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It started in the other states but the method is moving towards California, and may already be here, federal officials said.

Special Agent Jeffrey Scott of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, D.C., said the public has it wrong if they think the threat has disappeared just because we are not hearing about "trailers catching fire or hotel rooms exploding.” Meth remains a growth industry with heavy demand across the country, federal officials say.

Most San Diegans know of the Mexican cartels involvement in the manufacturer and smuggling of the drug into the United States. What's new, says a DEA chemist Team 10 talked to, is a witch's brew of chemicals mixed up in a plastic bottle. It's commonly called the "one pot" method or "shake and bake". Two-liter pop bottles are the most popular container meth maker use, followed by sport drink containers.

The one pot method started in the Midwest, far from the Mexican supply line. The demand for the drug is such that the method was created out of necessity by "tweekers," who are hopelessly hooked on meth.

DEA officials in Washington and in San Diego told 10news this method is heading our way. Reports of the "one pot" problem have popped up in Arizona recently. It may be happening right now in San Diego, but because of the small size of the operation and the lack of local media coverage on this issue, the shake and bake method may already be happening in any local community.

The recipe is all over the internet. It shows how the meth can be made by mixing together chemicals derived from ingredients commonly found in stores. The ingredients are taken from products that unclog sinks, brake fluid, lithium batteries and other. The most important element in the volatile brew is ephedrine. It’s commonly found in cold medicines and is the toughest for meth producers to acquire because of restrictions on the number of purchases of the drug that can be made in one store visit. But with enough persistence, it's possible to add this last ingredient to a swirling mix in the plastic bottle.

One bottle can produce one to two ounces of meth. A San Diego DEA chemist, who did not want his name used, told Team 10 if the plastic bottle is punctured, then, you have the "creation a flame-thrower effect."

DEA Special Agent Gary Hill of San Diego said "these type of labs are actually exploding because of the chemical reactions and solvents in them.”

Hill said an exploding bottle can destroy the inside of a car, which has already happened in Midwestern and southern states. Because the bottles are small and portable, police in other states have found bottle operations just about everywhere, including small walk-in closets, backpacks and trunks of cars.

DEA agents said San Diego hospitals will notice a major increase in burn patients going to emergency rooms when the one pot method explodes on the local scene. They said that’s exactly what happened in the Midwest.

Associated Press reporter Jim Salter reported earlier this year "a third of patients in some burn units were hurt while making meth.”

Agent Hill warned parents to tell their children not to pick up any discarded bottles if they have something inside them. Instead, he suggested calling police or the Meth Hotline at 1-877-662-6384.

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