The Lorain County Drug Task Force is investigating evidence related to the discovery of a meth lab at a residence on W. 7th Court.
Jim Larkin, detective of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, said members of the Task Force, Lorain Police Department and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the residence April 7 after receiving a complaint of a strong chemical smell emanating from the location.

Lorain Police Sgt. Tom Nimon said police received the complaint from 903 W. 7th Court about 3:45 p.m. and confirmed the strong chemical odor before alerting members of the Task Force and BCI.

“We did an initial evaluation and could tell this was kind of a dangerous situation,” Larkin said.

Officials were on scene for about seven hours processing evidence. Eight clear plastic bottles containing ingredients associated with the manufacturing process of methamphetamine, commonly referred to as “one pot” or “shake and bake,” were removed from the residence, Larkin said.

The bottles contained a mixture of pseudoephedrine cold medicine, ammonium nitrate found in cold packs, lithium batteries, Coleman fuel and sodium hydroxide found in drain cleaner.

Larkin said the chemical process produced by the mixture converts pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine, which is contained in the Coleman fuel solvent.

Three grams of pseudoephedrine can produce about 2.5 grams of methamphetamine, Larkin said. It has not been determined how much pseudoephedrine was used in this case.

In order to extract the methamphetamine from the solvent, hydrogen chloride gas must be bubbled through the solvent, Larkin said.
Hydrogen chloride gas was produced by mixing salt and sulfuric acid from drain cleaner in clear plastic bottles, such as Gatorade and soda bottles. Seventeen hydrogen chloride bottles were taken from the residence.

Presumptive tests produced positive results for methamphetamine, Nimon said.

Larkin noted the danger posed by the mixtures. The ammonia gas produced is harmful if inhaled and the lithium batteries, ammonium nitrate and solvent are flammable if the lithium batteries are exposed to too much water.

“Twenty-five percent of these around the country are found when these things blow up or catch fire,” Larkin said.

When catching fire, the result is like a flamethrower, he added.

No one was home when police arrived, except for the initial complainant. Larkin said someone had been living in the residence, which is a rental property.

Arrests have not been made, but suspects will be charged with illegal manufacture of methamphetamine in the vicinity of a juvenile, a first-degree felony, because of the potential dangers the meth lab posed to the surrounding area, which includes Admiral King Elementary and the Lorain Public Library.

Larkin noted the ingredients removed from the home were the most he’d handled in 11 years.

“This is the most volume we’ve seen,” he said.