Drugs police find first 'crystal meth lab' in force area
AVON and Somerset police have found what they believe is their first crystal meth lab – in Weston-super-Mare. The highly-addictive and damaging Class A drug has been popular in the US for years but has not been used widely in the UK. Only six police forces in the country have come across people making it.
Many people will know it as the drug of choice in the smash US television series Breaking Bad.
Police found what is believed to have been a mobile lab transported in a box, with all the equipment needed to make methamphetamine.
Yesterday, they targeted High Street, Swiss Road, Royal Crescent, Winscombe Road and Oldmixon Crescent. Officers arrested five men – aged 38, 34, 40, 37 and 45 – on suspicion of conspiracy to supply a class A drug.
More than 200 exhibits were seized and evidence of meth production was allegedly found at two of four addresses searched.
Force spokesman Catherine Foster said: "We have also seized large quantities of precursor agents for the production of methamphetamine including chemicals, equipment and a lab contained within a box."
The Serious Crime Group was alerted to a laboratory in the town via a local intelligence network which sees the police working in partnership with health authorities.
Such networks were set up following the Harold Shipman inquiry and aim to ensure the safe management of controlled drugs.
Pharmacies and local health trusts refer any unusual purchases or activity to the police.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant and a psychoactive drug. It can come in powder form or crystal form, is injected or smoked, and contains hydrochloric acid.
Due to its chemical make-up, it can be very damaging to the human body, eroding the teeth and gums and causing large sores on people's arms and legs.
Paul Blunt, Avon and Somerset's drug strategy manager, said: "We have always treated this drug extremely seriously. Not only is it hugely addictive, the production of it is a highly-dangerous process.
"It is very rare to come across the production of methamphetamine in this country, let alone in our force area.
"However, due to the successful relationship we have with the health authorities we were able to act swiftly so it did not reach our streets.
"We have seen the devastating impact this drug has had in America, Australia and South Africa and must do everything in our power to prevent it becoming common place in the UK."