The character Walt White of “Breaking Bad” fame showed AMC viewers the dangers associated with creating a successful methamphetamines manufacturing operation, dangers one might assume would increase substantially when the chosen location for the lab is in a Walmart bathroom.
This was the case at a Walmart in Muncie, Indiana, where an employee discovered what authorities later determined were the makings of a working meth lab in the men’s restroom Thursday night, March 12. According to local law enforcement, the employee saw a man walk into the men’s bathroom carrying a backpack Thursday night, but the man did not have the backpack in his possession when he exited the restroom. The employee found this behavior to be suspicious, and reported the incident.
After inspecting the backpack, police determined it was a small-scale active meth lab. Inside the backpack police found materials commonly used to cook the drug by way of the “one-pot” or “shake and bake” technique.
When these kinds of chemicals are combined, the mixture poses a high explosion and contamination risk.
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, officers responded to 1,377 reports of meth incidents (including seizures of labs, chemicals, glassware and dump sites) in 2004. By 2012, that figure had risen to 1,429 incidents.
In an Indiana State Police statement regarding the incident, police asserted that reports of meth labs operating in public places would likely become more common. According to the statement, more people are opting to avoid the risk of contaminating or blowing up their own homes by leaving the potentially explosive chemicals behind in public places and returning later to retrieve the finished drug. Police say these people will often dispose of dangerous trash, including Liquid Fire drain cleaner bottles, battery casings and white-residue-coated plastic bottles , in remote regions, empty lots or alleys.
The state police meth suppression team responded to the scene and removed the hazardous materials from the premises.
Health inspectors closed down both the men’s and women’s bathrooms until professional cleaners can remove all contaminants from both restrooms.
The man who abandoned the backpack in the bathroom remains at-large, according to police.