"This task force buys drugs, dismantles
labs and handles meth lab investigations," according to Master Sgt.
The everyday police officer does not
possess all of the skills needed in a meth investigation; they are
not certified. The task force, however, is certified by a 40-hour
special course taught in Springfield.
Some citizens in Lincoln might wonder
what a meth lab is. According to Colbrook, a meth lab is "an illicit
operation of a sufficient combination of an apparatus and chemicals
that are used or could be used to make a batch of controlled
Colbrook, who has been in the
enforcement group of the state police for 10 years, says, "There are
all different types of meth labs. One could be a 40-quart cooler
with all the ingredients to make meth," or there could be a
full-blown meth lab one might have in a house, apartment, hotel room
or trunk of a car.
Abusers make the drug with everyday
items. These are very accessible items, the main ingredient being
ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, better known as cold medicine.
Colbrook mentioned that cold medicine
is being stolen off the shelves in stores to make meth. He told the
story of a meth user they were following. He was going from store to
store, town to town and stealing cold medicine. The abuser had a
very large jacket on and was stuffing it full of cold medicine. He
did this every day and was finally apprehended by the task force.
The second main ingredient is widely
found in central Illinois. It is called anhydrous ammonia. Farmers
use it on their fields to fertilize crops to make them green. Meth
users use it to get high. Colbrook warned about the dangers of
anhydrous ammonia. If one were to spill it on a part of the body, it
would eat through the skin very rapidly.
Some of the other ingredients of meth
are ether and Coleman fuel, which are used as solvents in the
process of making meth. Once the meth makers have converted all the
ingredients they must use, Morton salt is needed to make it into a
solid for smoking, although Colbrook says that the majority of users
of meth use needles.
Above all, Colbrook emphasizes the
importance of how dangerous the labs are themselves. The containers
used to store the chemicals in the meth labs are sometimes under
pressure and often highly explosive. In fact, he states that 20
percent of the meth labs encountered by the Central Illinois
Enforcement Group Task Force are discovered by an accidental
explosion or fire.
measured science, not a measured product
Another warning is that most of these
chemicals used are mislabeled. The drug itself makes one stay awake
for days, and if a user has been up for numerous days, he or she may
not realize what chemical is in which container. "These people are
not chemists, they are not from Dow," Colbrook said.
This drug also affects children, even
though they might not be using it. Becca Ward, an intervention
specialist with the Wells Center, a Jacksonville detox center for
drug users, spoke about the effects on the families. She said that
children are often forgotten about and not fed. "The user does not
eat; the drug makes them lose their appetite. Why would they think
their child would need food? They don't need it," she explained.
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Children of meth users are often asked
to help in the making of the drug. There was an instance of this in
a nearby county the task force was watching. In the suspected meth
lab, there would be a few 14- and 15-year-olds coming and going.
When the task force finally received the search warrant to go in,
they saw these teens with Mountain Dew bottles. Within the bottles
were coffee filters. At that time the task force did not know why
this was going on. They pulled one of the teens aside and asked what
the filters were for. The teens replied that if they helped, the
cook making the meth would give them a coffee filter to put in their
drink to get a high. Sometimes the abusers of meth will take coffee
filters and strain the meth, which leaves a residue of meth crystals
that can be used over a couple of times.
Becca Ward said that if you suspect
that a child is in a meth lab environment, you should call the
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and let them
know. The department would keep the statement on file, and if there
is an arrest with that child's parents or guardian, officials would
be able to pull that statement out for evidence.
Some physical signs that a person is on
methamphetamines are rapid weight loss, deterioration of the teeth,
dilated pupils, a chemical smell coming from the person, lack of
sleep, and sores and scabs. These sores and scabs are very prevalent
on the body, and the user will usually be picking at them without
knowing they are.
Treatment for a meth user is limited.
Ward said, "There really isn't any medication given for meth,
although they are now given some medication for anxiety."
One of the hardest steps in the
detoxification of meth is sleeping. Meth is very damaging to the
body's clock. Some will sleep so soundly that the center might have
to hold a mirror under their nose to make sure they are breathing,
or some will sleep only in two-hour increments. She also says that
most meth users "will not come in the center on their own; it will
take a judge to get them to detox."
Colbrook said it best, "We are not here
to teach you how to make meth but to let people be aware of meth."
There needs to be awareness in Lincoln and Logan County about meth
labs and the warning signs that go along with them.
Since 1997, meth labs have been popping
up in Logan County, and the trend is heading east at a steady rate.
Colbrook said, "Since Logan County is a farming community, meth labs
will be here -- we can't escape them -- but what we can do is give
For more information on meth labs or
methamphetamines in general go to these websites:
or the Illinois State Police website at
suspect that there is a meth lab or someone on meth, contact the
Lincoln Police or the Central Illinois Enforcement Group Task Force
at (217) 782-4750 or e-mail Brad Colbrook at