Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

How could you find out if a house was once the site of a meth lab?

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU
 
raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:35 AM
Original message
How could you find out if a house was once the site of a meth lab?

I'm not house-hunting right now, but looking ahead. Someone has posted on DU about having bought a house that once was the site of a meth lab.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
1. If people were actually arrested for it ...
you could search for that address in the county's public records down at the county courthouse.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
15. most busts are not in the records at the courthouse nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #15
19. Arrest reports are public record...
so, I guess I'm a little confused by your statement.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #19
21. It took me 9 weeks to get info from Dept Justice (arrest records NOT always public)
DOJ said that I was lucky I got the info, that usually it takes a subpeona (sp?)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #21
29. Arrest records are always public unless ordered otherwise...
as in the case of juvenile offenders, or on orders of a judge at trial. And getting stuff from DOJ isn't the same as getting arrest records from the courts. The former requires a FOIA request (not a subpoena, no matter what the bullying DOJ official told you). For the record, I was a cops and courts reporter for a while at a newspaper. Public record requests are old hat for me.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Virginia Dare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #21
36. You CAN get complaint records from the police though..
every jurisdiction is different as to how you go about it, but if you call and talk to the public information officer, they should be able to help you. If there was a drug operation going on at that address, chances are the police were called there, and you may be able to gleen something from it. You will have to pay for the cost of the copies.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
blondeatlast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-07-07 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #36
40. Librarians can be very helpful with this.
If your public library has a government docs/law desk (most big cities will) ask them. they really know their stuff.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
EV_Ares Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:37 AM
Response to Original message
2. Get all the rcds of that house you can at the court house and also go
to the police and see if there had ever been any kind of police activity at that location.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #2
17. best bet is to call Narcotics task force and NEIGHBORS nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Donnachaidh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:39 AM
Response to Original message
3. the realtor is REQUIRED to give you that information
If they do NOT, they can lose their license.

That being said, you can go down to the office that holds property records and they should have a history of ownership. But I would also call local police to see if a masterlist is kept of meth houses.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #3
20. realtors I have asked about this have said "If I don't know I Don't have to disclose" so they don't
ask,

It is now on 2006 forward California Real Estate Disclosure Forms
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Donnachaidh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-07-07 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #20
39. they could get into really deep shit with that attitude
It's a lawsuit waiting to happen. And NO listing is worth having your license pulled for playing *stupid*.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LiberalEsto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:41 AM
Response to Original message
4. Odor perhaps?
I read somewhere that the manufacture of meth is a horribly smelly process. Supposedly it is a distinctive odor.

Does anyone here at DU know if this is true, and does the smell linger?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
izquierdista Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #4
16. Odors
That's a problem with most chemical processes, stinky solvents. Ammonia is one of the main ingredients in meth manufacturing, but it won't hang around, so that is not a sure telltale sign. Meth requires nonpolar solvents, which is usually done with hydrocarbon solvents such as gasoline, kerosene, naphtha, or one of the favorites, white gas. Here is a checklist of some of the things that would tip me off that a clandestine lab had been in operation, even if the place has been emptied out of all equipment:

1) Ventilation fans in odd places. If there is an attic exhaust fan in the side wall of the garage, it might have been put in to dissipate the fumes.

2) Dead areas in the vegetation where solvents have been dumped. If you see a large dead spot with grass growing better at the perimeter, it might be a place where ammonia containing chemicals were dumped. The ammonia kills the center area, but at the edge, it has a fertilizer effect (Think, big, big, dog urine spots).

3) Pool acid containers where there is no swimming pool. Hydrochloric acid is a very common chemical in chemical processing, and if the property belonged to a bricklayer, he might have used it to acid wash his work. It's also one of the chemicals that can be used to crystallize out the soluble form of meth.

4) Unusual stains on concrete or linoleum floors. Solvents will discolor porous surfaces, leaving behind what was dissolved in them. If you are looking at a ceramic tile floor, that type of tile will not be permeated by solvents, so you have to check the grout and see if it has been discolored in places.

5) Unusual jury-rigged electrical installations that would support multiple hotplates. Yes, the word "cooking" does apply, so if the garage has been outfitted with extra 15 amp circuits and lots of extra plug strips, it might not have been for an entertainment center.

6) Unexplained splash marks on the drywall. Every so often a meth lab will go boom when it was supposed to be attended to, and the contents of the cooking pot went flying all over the place.

Your tipoff to a clandestine lab is that most of these people are not trained chemists who know chemical safety and how to clean up after themselves. They probably left quickly, left half-empty cans of solvent lying around, had spills and other accidents and generally made a mess out of the place. If they knew what they were doing, worked carefully, packed up all their equipment when they left, it's going to be difficult to tell, even if you have a forensic lab at your disposal with the latest GCMS equipment.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
shireen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:42 AM
Response to Original message
5. drug-sniffing dog might detect traces of it?
If the meth lab operators never got caught, there will be no police record. Perhaps you could hire a drug-sniffing dog to check the place out. Or even ask if the police department has a free service to help home buyers check on such things. It sounds like a very good idea, especially if you have kids and pets. There could be hidden crevices with toxins, that could be accessible to toddlers, esp. when they're at that age when they'll put anything in their mouths. And dogs may find it, and start licking it -- that could make them very sick.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #5
10. Excellent point, "If the meth lab operators never got caught, there will be no police record." nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Virginia Dare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #10
33. They have to record every call they make though..
you can find out if they were called to that address and how many times, what the complaint was, etc. It may be a start if you can't get anything out of the neighbors.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Virginia Dare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:44 AM
Response to Original message
6. FOIA the local police department..
for all calls to that address within the last 5 years.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:33 AM
Response to Reply #6
22. meth labs have been getting busted for 20 years, chemicals do NOT disperse nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Virginia Dare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #22
32. Find out how far back they are covered by FOIA..
it's a start, usually at least one neighbor will complain to the cops if they suspect something's going on.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:45 AM
Response to Original message
7. Thanks for the suggestions! nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MindPilot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:46 AM
Response to Original message
8. My insurance agent told me a tale
Guy shortly after buying the house noticed the outside of the garage was bigger than the inside. He tore down the false wall to find a meth lab. Unfortunately he reported it and the DEA seized the house. Don't know what happened after that.

I know a man who bought a truck at government auction. It had a compartment built into the fuel tank which was full of drugs. When he took it to the shop to have what he thought was a fuel gage problem repaired, the shop discovered the drugs and reported it; the man was arrested and the vehicle siezed...again.

To answer your question, the seller must disclose that information or you can sue them if they don't. That's the law in California; I don't know about other states.

Perhaps if you have any suspicions along those lines, you might want to hire an engineer who specializes in such things to check the place out before you buy.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:34 AM
Response to Reply #8
23. It costs $5-10K to sue, I have no cash, I am f*cked nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MindPilot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #23
37. Yeah, it's never as easy as it sounds...that really sucks
And I'm going to guess that you are in one of those situations where the previous owners claim no knowledge and/or even if you did have the wherewithal to enter into litigation there is nobody to recover from.

I feel for ya, man.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #37
38. seller DID know (it was a relative of his)-just chose to LIE nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
9. Snort the sheetrock (drywall).
If your nose gets really stuffed up but nothing else happens...

Sheetrock.

If your nose gets really stuffed up and you get kinda high...

Maybe a meth lab.



But, Hey!, the Chinese are selling drywall as Viagra!

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:38 AM
Response to Reply #9
25. spray starch sprayed on sheetrock will turn walls lavender or violet if Iodine (red phospherous meth
method was used


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
catnhatnh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
11. Check for a deviated chimney....
Whoops! That would be a coke lab-my bad....
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
northernsoul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
12. You should be able to pull police reports for a given address
Depends on your state's Government Data Practices laws. Also, there may by mandatory dislosure laws in your jurisdiction. I'd recommend getting a good buyers' agent who can help you research.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Romulox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:15 AM
Response to Original message
13. No offense, but this sounds like more War on (some) Drugs hysteria.
You're much more likely to buy a home with a dangerous level of lead or faulty wiring than a former meth lab...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:36 AM
Response to Reply #13
24. meth labs can cost $5K-100K for clean-up- 5-10% of homes in my county had labs-no realtor will sell
a former meth lab

or at least none of the ones I have talked to
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Romulox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #24
27. I don't doubt the problem may be acute in some areas of the country
If you live in such an area, by all means, take all prudent precautions.

But at the same time, there has been a concerted attempt to generate a generalized hysteria throughout the country w/r/t methamphetamine, including numerous bogus health stories that are parrotted back uncritically by the media (e.g. "meth mouth").

The forgoing makes me extremely suspicious of media reports regarding "trends" involving methamphetamine. Too many stories sound like press releases from the DEA and the Partnership for a Drug Free America (who famously ran the "pot smokers fund terrorists!" ad during the Super Bowl.)

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
wuushew Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #27
35. That hysteria is also responsible for the decline in effective cold and allergy medicines
The numerous government reports in the public domain backup the assertion that manufacturing meth from OTC medicine is neither efficient nor economical.

Is society really better off factoring in the increased sick time and illness related accidents? I say no.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:27 AM
Response to Original message
14. I am the one the bought an undisclosed (potentially toxic) former meth lab home
Luckily lab was in a travel trailer, but person was also cooking in the large shed on the property after he got busted, and was also seen pouring liquids along the driveway.

Here are the steps to checking out former meth lab status.

1. Look for you local narcotics task force online-see if they have a database of meth lab busts (this may or may not be a complete list and may have errors) It may not list meth lab dump sites. The list for my county only goes back to 1999 and so far I have found three typos on it. I will be forwarding that info to a reporter when I get done (am halfway through list of about 300).

2. Call your local police, sheriff and/or Narcotics Task Force and ask if they have kept a log of all the busts.

3. AND MOST IMPORTANT STEP-ask the neighbors that have lived in the neighborhood for the past 15-20 years if they know of any meth labs that were in the neighborhood. DEA's website states that only 5-10% of meth labs are busted. That means that in my county with about 800 busts there are really about 8,000-16,000 contaminated homes, mobiles, apartments, motels, and/or meth lab dumps sites.


For my state CA, and county they usually sent a "notification of potential hazardous contamination" to the owner of record.
Usually only the cookware and chemical/containers were removed by DTSC (Department of Toxic Substance Control).
The properties were not usually tested for contamination, nor was the soil checked unless there was very visible soil contamination.
It was usually up to the owner of the property to clean it and/or disclose it to a new buyer or renter.
For a really large bust (mega-lab) they would red-tag the property.

As of 2006 labs that are busted from 2006 forward are now required to be tested and red-tagged and a lien goes to the property owner so it comes
up in a title search.

A buyer/renter must do his/her own investigation-an environmental report will NOT include info from neighbors on suspected labs that were never actually busted. A can of spray starch may turn walls violet or lavender if Iodine is present (indicating the probability that the "red phospherous" method was used)


Here is an excellent story that was in "The State", South Carolina's Newspaper. I called the reporters on Day 2 to request they be sure to cover former meth lab homes as part of their series. They were one step ahead of me and part 3 came out the next day. They were even kind enough to send me an actual copy of the newspaper. Front page, above the hold and formatted in a most excellent manner.

http://www.thestate.com/news/story/182719.html

Posted on Tue, Sep. 25, 2007
reprint or licenseprint email
Digg itdel.icio.usAIM
SAVAGE METH | Day 3: Hidden time bombs
Poisons lurk as state does little to notify public, make toxic sites clean
By JOHN MONK and ADAM BEAM - jmonk@thestate.com abeam@thestate.com




ABOUT THE SERIES
A three-part series on South Carolinas war on meth
Day 1: Meet the man who unleashed meth on the Midlands. Online at thestate.com

Day 2: South Carolina does not monitor long-term health of children exposed to chemicals at meth labs.

Day 3: Is there a former meth lab in your neighborhood? Is it safe? Is there any way to know?

It was one of Lexington Countys most hazardous home meth labs, complete with a bathtub full of a weird pink liquid.

It could have blown up thats how dangerous it was, said Sheriff James Metts, as officers in hazmat suits went in and out of the Gaston house in June while neighborhood children stood well back and watched.

Two months later, a neighbor said the empty house still reeked of foul chemicals.

Neighbors likely will never know what contaminants might still be inside.

Still, those neighbors know more than many other S.C. residents at least they are aware there was a meth lab there.


...snip


I am running out the door to a physical therapy appointment, but pm me later if you want to talk more about this.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:40 AM
Response to Reply #14
26. Thanks for those links, fed! nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Virginia Dare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #14
31. One of my relatives sold her house to somebody..
who opened a meth operation (she actually sold the house to the guy's mother), and the whole thing blew to kingdom come one day.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Arkansas Granny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
18. There are, apparently, test kits that can be purchased that might
help. Found some info here about the kits and how to spot a meth house. I don't know if this is especially helpful or not.

http://www.inspection-perfection.com/main/pages/order%2...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #18
28. thanks for the link. nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #18
30. testsa are only good IF you hit dead on spot w/contamination-like finding needle in haystack
lots of rooms in houses, not all are always checked

house in Chico had garage checked, came out clean, then week later BINTF showed where cooking took place, tested out 80 times acceptable

testing here in CA costs $100 per square foot sample!!!

costs for house to be tested can run $3-5K!!!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-06-07 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #30
34. Good gosh. Thanks for the info. nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Fri Dec 15th 2017, 04:33 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC