JACKSON, MS - (WLBT) - It devastates lives, ruins families and puts all of us in danger. Meth is an epidemic in this state. There have been more than 620 meth lab busts in Mississippi over the last year.
It impacts lives everywhere because you never know when a meth lab could go up in your neighborhood, apartment complex or even in the car next to you on the road.
Thursday afternoon in this Ridgeland neighborhood at 7116 Old Canton Road agents find another shake and bake meth lab. Some of the ingredients so volatile it could have been devastating to those who live here. Marshall Fisher is the Director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
"In the event we would have an explosion or flash fire at this residence, its not hard to figure out that it could easily with a little bit of a breeze, you could have fires at several other residences in the neighborhood", Fisher said.
The material is toxic, can only be handled with gloves and must be carefully packaged to be taken away. Fisher says the state crime lab has had at least 100 meth labs to process for the month of February.
"This is just an example of what we're seeing all over the state. We've had a serious increase in meth labs", said Fisher.
This is where many of the meth labs end up. We were allowed to bring our cameras into the evidence rooms at MBN to see this material from meth busts. They are packaged and placed in this locker. And though the locker has only been in use for a couple of months it is nearly full of evidence from North, Central and South Mississippi and there is still an odor.
"We have to maintain custody of this until the case has gone through court", Fisher said.
Cocaine, meth, and these rows and rows of guns are all tools of the drug trade in Mississippi. Ammunition from this gun will cut through a bullet resistant vest. In one of its biggest cases to date, more than 50 people were arrested in June, 2009 by MBN. They had ties to a Mexican cartel. Some of the dealers discussed breaking into a narcotics office to steal confiscated drugs and wanted the identities of judges and officers involved in the undercover investigation in Mississippi. 19 were indicted and as of last week, all 19 had pleaded guilty.
"We actually had to arrest some people prematurely to keep them from getting murdered", Fisher said.
And now a new danger, shake and bake meth labs. Dealers can create a batch of meth in a 2 liter bottle.
"Very, very mobile. We've actually had people who were arrested driving down the road with a meth lab cooking off in their back seat or the back of a pickup truck. It happens more frequently than you can imagine. Imagine sitting at a red light with your family and one of these things explodes next to you", said Fisher.
Many of the victims of meth are young children who are turned over to the Department of Human Services. More than 30 so far this year.
"DHS comes out, they have to strip these children down to nothing and change their clothes because everything they're wearing, everything in that house where that meth has been cooking is contaminated", Fisher said.
With new legislation that goes into effect July 1st, Fisher and others hope by requiring a prescription for the key ingredient in meth, pseudoephedrine, more lives will be saved. Everything from brake fluid, to drain cleaner, moth balls and hydrogen chloride, which can be lethal, are used to make meth. But still you can't make meth without pseudoephedrine. There have been several apartment fires and a casino in Tunica had to be evacuated because of shake and bake meth labs.