Neighbor tips off LPD to unusual chemical smell, leads to meth lab investigation

Lawton_Lawton Police say they are investigating yet another meth lab after raiding a house in the 1500 block of Southwest Bishop Road near the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport on Friday morning.  They say they found out about the site after a concerned neighbor called police to report smelling a chemical smell that resembled ether.  Patrol officers when they arrived say they smelled the chemicals when they arrived on the scene, which is when they called in the Special Operations Team.

Police say they didn't know what was going on at the house on Bishop Road until they got the neighbor's call.  Lawton Police Department Narcotics Investigator Lieutenant Todd Palmer says signs of possible meth production are substances such as starter fluid, Freon, paint thinner, or a mixture of chemicals.  He says that if you smell these in your neighborhood, you could be living near a meth lab.  "A lot of the chemicals that are used in making meth are also used for automotive uses," he said.  "It's a burning - real pungent - it's a distinct odor that once you smell it, you kind of never forget it."

Another tip-off is discarded debris.  Meth cooks often put their leftover supplies directly into their garbage can.  "You can see empty bottles of Coleman fuel, ether.  We've seen a lot of tubing, a lot of maybe Pepsi bottles or different types of soda, plastic bottles with tubes running out of them, or they're taped up at the end," said Palmer.

Neighbors shouldn't go snooping in other neighbors' trash, but should be aware of anything suspicious.  Not all meth lab supplies are left at home.  "We've found them in water sheds out at the lake, on the side of the road, in bar ditches - just left anywhere - because they obviously have no concern for the public's safety," he said.

Police say they know most folks would worry about their own safety if they report their neighbors for breaking the law, but police say they keep tips confidential.  They say the bottom line is how dangerous meth labs are.  Potential for fires and explosions.  "Just the burning smell can dry out your eye sockets, and cause permanent damage to your lungs - so it's definitely dangerous," Palmer said.

Police say not to worry if you smell something unusual, but if you believe a meth lab might be nearby, you should call authorities and let them investigate.  They say the entire community can work together to help eliminate meth labs.

Count on 7News to keep you updated on what happens in this case.