Methamphetamine “cooks” are moving undetected through motels and hotels with covert drug-making labs — leaving a toxic mess behind for unsuspecting customers and housekeeping crews, the Associated Press reports. They are places where drug-makers can go unnoticed, mixing the chemicals needed for the addictive stimulant in a few hours before slipping out the next morning. The dangerous contaminants can lurk on countertops, carpets and bathtubs; the sickening smells can be masked by tobacco smoke and other scents.
Drug agents “can seize the trailer or seize your house but they can’t seize a motel room,” said Dr. Sullivan Smith, director of emergency services at Cookeville, Tn., Regional Medical Center. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration records obtained by The Associated Press show that states reported finding drug-making in 1,789 motel and hotel rooms in the past five years. Some cleanup professionals say most of their work is done on properties where a meth lab was discovered long afterward. The number of clandestine labs that are never found is difficult to pin down. There was a slight uptick in hotel and motel lab busts reported to DEA in 2008–127 compared with 87 in 2007. Meth labs can be set up in less than four hours inside hotel and motel rooms, says The American Hotel and Lodging Association.