TULSA - The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics estimates law enforcement will uncover more than 900 meth labs by the end of the year. Most of them are one pot labs meth labs, and the majority of them are found right here in Green Country.
The discovery of meth labs is a daily occurrence for Green Country law enforcement agencies.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narctotics and Dangerous Drugs estimates that it costs between $1,000 and $8,000 to respond to each lab and dispose of the remnants. But, it's estimated the real cost to tax payers is closer to $350,000 when you factor in incarceration, prosecution, healthcare for the suspects and social services for their children.
Although no county is immune, rural areas are being devastated by these meth labs.
"It's the single, number one most draining (requirement) we have on manpower and resources," said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton.
He says the labs take a toll on man power because safety regulations require three deputies to be on sight for each lab found.
"It becomes impossible with the staffing levels we've got," said Walton. "That's your entire fleet of deputies to answer calls for the day that it takes out of commission just to handle this."
The DEA used to help remove meth lab trash. That changed when federal funding was cut.
In July, OBN started its container program, placing about a half-dozen shipping containers across the state so departments like Rogers County can transport their lab remnants there.
OBN and the federal Government share the $600,000 to $800,000 cost of having them hauled away every few weeks. But each department has to foot the bill to train deputies to package and transport the waste.
Meth labs also carry a huge cost to property owners.
"We realize that we needed a house to settle into. We were looking through the market and we came upon a good deal. We thought we were getting a good deal," said Phillip Brotherton.
He and his girlfriend Kara Powell bought a midtown Tulsa home when Kara was seven months pregnant. It didn't take long for them to realize something was wrong.
Kara started getting skin irritations. Then a neighbor told them a meth lab had been busted in their home.
Even though the law requires it, they say the seller never disclosed this.
"We were so excited," said Powell. "We finally had our house. And we were getting everything together and set up. We were excited to start our family, and then we find out that and we had to move back into my mom's house. We had to live with her for a month. So (our baby) is a newborn and we were staying at my mom's house. It's not how we pictured starting out."
It cost more than $10,000 to make their home safe. That meant replacing all the insulation, the kitchen cabinets and deep cleaning every surface. Since soft surfaces tend to soak up the toxins, Powell threw away all the baby's clothes.
"I was more concerned for him," said Powell. "Because I didn't know what kind an affect that could have on him. I was really scared for him."
Bill Coye owns APEX BioClean. He says depending on a home's size and level of contamination, cleanup can cost from $5,000 to $19,000, none of which is covered by insurance.
"People are just painting these places and encapsulating the contamination. There are hundreds of homes in Tulsa where this has already happened," said Coye. "If you do have a property that has been busted as meth lab, you need to have it tested and cleaned properly. And that way you can get your fit-for-use document."
Brotherton and Powell learned the hard way that resources are available to check a property's history.
"It's public knowledge. You just have to get out there and research it and find it yourself," said Phillip.
After months of worry and thousands of dollars, Brotherton and Powell finally feel like their home is safe.
"But it makes living here and knowing that we have a safe place to live and it's safe for Kara and our son, that's a big thing for me," said Brotherton.
Do you know what signs of meth house look like? Are the windows frosted or blacked out? Does the house have security cameras or surveillance equipment?
Here are some of the tell-tale signs of a meth house.
Outside the house:
Dead patches in the yard from chemical waste
Frosted or blacked out windows
Equipped with security camera or surveillance equipment
Inside the house:
Smoke detectors may be removed or taped off
Large amount of glassware or tubing left behind
Walls and ceilings with dark red staining
Unusually strong smell of paint thinner, ammonia, rotten eggs, or cat urine
Empty containers left behind (paint thinner, acetone, lye, antifreeze, drain cleaner, etc.)
Altered or strange ventilation system
Walls, drains, sinks, or showers may be discolored and yellowed
Blue discoloration of valves on propane tanks, fire extinguishers
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Tonight, several families in Carney are picking up the pieces at their homes. A tornado ripped through the south side of town there.