A self-storage unit in Florida appears to have been doing double duty as a meth lab and a home.
After receiving an anonymous tip, police officers arrested Steve Williams at a self-storage facility in the Orlando, FL, suburb of Longwood. Williams, who’d been living in the storage unit with an unidentified woman, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly cooking methamphetamine. Inside the storage unit, authorities found an air mattress, a fan, plastic beakers, and the chemicals needed to cook meth for personal consumption.
Aside from bombs, meth labs are the most dangerous thing authorities find in self-storage. Explosions are quite common, and even a tiny operation yields a great deal of chemical waste, which also is combustible.
In fact, authorities think the smaller meth cooking operations are more dangerous than the larger ones. One wrong step during a “shake-and-bake” or “one pot” synthesis will produce a giant explosion. Because of laws cracking down on the sale of pseudoephedrine (Sudafed and Claritin), more and more meth users are opting for the shake-and-bake method.
During this method, the meth cooker pours lighter fluid, sodium hydroxide, the lithium strip from a AA battery and cold medicine (or a cold pack) into an empty water bottle. Then the user shakes the bottle while periodically allowing oxygen to enter. Even during a well-executed shake-and-bake cook, flames form inside the bottle. The process is absurdly dangerous, as the combination of oxygen, water, sodium hydroxide, lithium and ammonium nitrate makes an explosion quite likely. The lithium strips alone will respond violently to water, and even sweat from the user’s hands can cause an eruption.
In Steve Williams’ case, the authorities found him before a bottle blew up in his face; however, not every meth user is so lucky.
If you are self-storage owner or manager, be sure to patrol your facility daily to check for signs of crime. Whenever you detect ammonia, vinegar or any other bitter aromas coming from a storage unit, contact local authorities immediately. Also, if you find a water bottle with a brown and white residue inside, this is most likely the noxious aftermath of a shake-and-bake cook. Don’t touch the bottle, and contact local authorities right away.
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