Methamphetamine labs create a terrible danger to communities throughout the state. The volatile chemicals often found at these sites are dangerous and present environmental hazards. They are also extremely flammable and have resulted in numerous fires and explosions. These fires can injure bystanders as well as first responders. Meth lab fires or explosions may be investigated as arson and result in additional charges.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, has created six regional Meth Response Teams of trained law enforcement officers responsible for the initial investigation and dismantling of clandestine meth labs. A State Methamphetamine Workgroup has been forme din Tallahassee and includes numerous state agencies in an effort to develop statewide strategies and protocols regarding law enforcement response, drug endangered children, and environmental remediation. Coordination among agencies is one key to success.
Agents and hazardous materials professionals, including toxics control specialists and cleanup personnel, also play a key role in documenting conditions of child endangerment. Factors such as the potential for fire or explosion, presence of hazardous materials, improper storage of chemicals, and poor ventilation put these children at severe risk of harm. Training for these professionals addresses policies, responsibilities, processes, documentation, and procedures related to the examination, transportation, immediate treatment, and referrals of drug-endangered children living at illegal meth labs. A specialist in hazardous materials involved in the investigation should list all the chemicals found at an illegal drug manufacturing site to help medical personnel assess the physical condition of children found there. The reports or testimony of hazardous materials specialists who respond to the site and other experts will be required in court.