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Methamphetamine Investigations

To report suspected methamphetamine laboratory activity, please call H.E.L.P. and SBI Crime Tip Line. Their toll free number is located on the SBI Division Contact Page.

About Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, a derivative of amphetamine, is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine use increases energy and alertness and decreases appetite. Methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, orally ingested, and injected. Snorting affects the user in approximately 5 minutes, whereas oral ingestion takes about 20 minutes for the user to feel the effects. The effects of methamphetamine can last up to 12 hours.

Methamphetamine, also called meth, is typically a white powder that easily dissolves in water, but is also found in the form of clear chunky crystals, is called crystal meth, or ice. A third form of the drug is small, brightly colored tablets, often called by their Thai name, yaba. (Link to “Common Street Terms for Meth here?)

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in 2001 there were 12,715 methamphetamine laboratory incidents reported in 46 States. The West Coast accounted for most of the laboratory incidents. On the East Coast, the following States reported the highest incident rates: Georgia (51), North Carolina (31), and Florida (29). Nationally, the highest rate of lab activity took place in Missouri, which reported 2,207 incidents. California and Washington also had high incident rates with 1,847 and 1,477, respectively. According to the El Paso Intelligence Center's National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System, in 2001, there were 303 "superlabs" with the capacity to produce 10 or more pounds of methamphetamine in one production cycle seized in the United States.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), during 2001, the price of methamphetamine ranged nationally from $3,500 to $23,000 per pound, $350 to $2,200 per ounce, and $20 to $300 per gram.

Methamphetamine can be easily manufactured in clandestine laboratories (meth labs) using ingredients available for purchase at local retail stores. Relatively inexpensive over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine and other materials are "cooked" in meth labs to make methamphetamine.

The manufacture of methamphetamine has a severe impact on the environment. The production of one pound of methamphetamine releases poisonous gas into the atmosphere and creates 5 to 7 pounds of toxic waste. Laboratory operators often dump the toxic waste down household drains, in fields and yards, or on rural roads.

Methamphetamine labs can be portable and so are easily dismantled, stored, or moved. This portability helps methamphetamine manufacturers avoid law enforcement authorities. Meth labs have been found in many different types of locations, including apartments, hotel rooms, rented storage spaces, and trucks.

These methamphetamine labs have been known to be “booby-trapped”, and the lab operators are often well armed. The labs are also dangerous because of their capacity to injure officers through explosion and fumes. Due to the creation of toxic waste at methamphetamine production sites, many first response personnel incur injury when dealing with the hazardous substances. The most common symptoms suffered by first responders when they raid methamphetamine labs are respiratory and eye irritations, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.

Consequences of methamphetamine and amphetamine use include but are not limited to the following:
  • Effects of usage include addiction, psychotic behavior, and brain damage.1
  • Withdrawal symptoms include depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and intense cravings.2
  • Chronic use can cause violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, and paranoia.2
  • Damage to the brain cause by meth usage is similar to Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and epilepsy.3
1 Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Facts: Methamphetamine, May, 2002.
2 Ibid.
3 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Methamphetamine: Abuse and Addiction, April, 1998. What are the Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse?

For More Information

For additional information on methamphetamine or to request a presentation in your area on the dangers of methamphetamine, please contact the Alabama Department of Public Safety Public Information/Education Unit and Media Response Office. Their contact information is located on the Administrative Contact Page.

To report suspected methamphetamine laboratory activity, please call H.E.L.P. and SBI Crime Tip Line. Their toll free number is located on the SBI Division Contact Page.

Additional information may be also be obtained by visiting the following web sites:
Drug Enforcement Administration
Office of National Drug Control Policy: Drug Facts

Disclaimer: This project was supported by Grant # 2001-CKWX-0168 and 2003-CKWX-0265 from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), U.S. Department of Justice(US DOJ).