In World War II-era Quonset huts deep inside the sprawling Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va.,, two Harford County, Md., sheriff’s deputies spent a week learning how to cook methamphetamine, reports the Baltimore Sun. Deputy Greg Young wants to be able to recognize the ingredients of a drug that has been popping up in his largely rural county with increasing frequency. The cooking instruction came as part of an effort by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to train authorities to identify, dismantle and secure clandestine methamphetamine labs. Last year, police officers in Maryland discovered nine such sites, up from two the year before. While not nearly the same crisis as in the West and Midwest – more than 12,000 meth labs were discovered nationwide last year, drug experts report that the meth lab phenomenon has moved east and may be establishing a foothold in Maryland.
For the students who complete the course, the DEA provides more than $2,000 worth of hazardous material protection gear, including chemical suits, bulletproof vests, and protective masks. Instructors discuss the toxicology of the drug in a classroom lined with pictures of lab operators who have been injured or died during meth production accidents.