Bainbridge- Decatur County Sheriff's deputies have noticed the red phosphorous way of cooking meth recently during several lab busts. They had never come across it before in the county.
Meth has been a major problem in South Georgia for several years. But it's getting worse now because a more volatile way of cooking the drug has crept into Decatur County. "Red phosphorous meth labs are a little bit more dangerous than ammonia meth labs," says Sergeant Chip Nix.
That's because there are more ingredients, ones that are more flammable and potentially deadly. "During the cooking process, it can put off a phosphiene gas, also known as a mustard gas," says Nix.
Deputies in the Sheriff's Office Crime Lab say the red phosphorous method can also yield another military-grade byproduct, something that can be dangerous to an entire neighborhood. "Red phosphorous will convert to white phosphorous, the military stuff. That burns upon contact with air, and it blows up," says Crime Scene Technician Brent Loeffler.
That's why they suit up before busting meth labs with flame-retardant gear, and highly protective suits. "We don't want to breathe this stuff. We don't want this stuff around us," sats Loeffler.
But one of the most frightening problems associated with the red phosphorous method is that it's residue can be around long after the cookers are gone, left for you or your kids to inhale after you move in. "A lot of this stuff is heavier than air. Carpet, carpet padding, cushions and couches, it just adheres to that stuff. It soaks it up like a sponge," says Loeffler.
Meth cookers usually take red phosphorous from the back of match books. It's a new method in Decatur County to a revolving-door kind of problem. "If you arrest one meth cook and he goes to prison, by the time he gets out, he's taught 10 people how to cook meth," says Nix.
Deputies say they're having such a hard time combating the meth problem because of the level of addiction. They say that's proven because addicts keep smoking meth even though they know it dissolves their lungs, ruins their skin, and rots their teeth.