Clandestine Labs, Stash Houses and What You Can Do About Drugs In Your Neighborhood

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Clandestine Labs

A narcotics laboratory or production house is also frequently referred to as a clandestine drug laboratory or clan lab. These laboratories are mini-chemical labs designed for one purpose: to make deadly, illegal drugs quickly and cheaply.

"Clan lab" chemists can produce LSD, synthetic Heroin and other drugs, but their drug of choice is Methamphetamine, commonly called Meth, Speed or Crank. A smokeable form of methamphetamine called Ice, Glass or Crystal is also produced.

Not only are these homemade drugs dangerous, but the labs that produce them can be located in any neighborhood and pose serious health and safety threats to the public. Toxic chemicals, explosions, fires, booby traps, armed criminals -- any of these can mean disaster for the people who inadvertently stumble onto the labs.

The Mesa Police Department has confronted this problem by having several of its detectives attend the Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement/Safety Certification Program hosted by the Drug Enforcement Agency. In the Year 2000, the Mesa Police Department located and dismantled approximately 35 laboratories. These laboratories have been located in single-family residences, multi-family residences, and as well as in vehicles and various other locations throughout the city. Many of the laboratories have been located with the aid of concerned citizens. Below you will find several signs that may indicate the presence of a clandestine laboratory.

  • Strong chemical odors
  • High volumes of traffic to suspected location
  • People coming outside only to smoke
  • Chemical containers coming to and from that location

If you spot a clandestine lab...

  • Don't investigate because of the danger to you and anyone else in the area. Most law enforcement agencies have narcotics teams and hazardous material units. Busting clan labs is their job -- let them do it.
  • Leave the area at once. Anyone without proper training and protective gear should stay at least 500 feet away from any suspected clandestine laboratory.
  • Immediately contact your police department or sheriff to notify them of your suspicions. Call 911 if you think you've been exposed to toxic chemicals of if you suspect a chemical leak in your neighborhood.

If you wish to send information anonymously regarding drug activity within the City of Mesa, there are several ways to do so. Information can be reported online, by text message or by using a smart phone app.

If you do provide information, please leave as much of the following information as you can. Any information you leave will remain confidential.

  • Names and descriptions of people involved
  • Addresses/phone numbers at location of suspected activity
  • Drug type, if known
  • Vehicle description/license plate
  • Weapons involved
  • Type of activity observed

 

Stash Houses

The following lists the typical indicators of a stash house. These indicators alone do not necessarily mean that the occupants of the home are running a drug stash house. However, if these indicators or any other suspicious activity is observed at the residence, it may warrant investigation.

Community members are encouraged to contact the Mesa Police Department drug interdiction number at 480-262-1174 to report suspicious activity. Callers may remain anonymous.

  • Most drug stash houses are rental homes.
  • Stash house caretakers prefer homes with attached garages.
  • Yard is unkempt, although sometimes they send someone periodically to clean it up to avoid attention.
  • Usually little, if any, furniture in the home.
  • Occupants tend to keep to themselves and they will not be visible on a daily basis. If the occupants are actually living at the stash house, they will not appear to hold a regular job, or have a "normal" pattern of lifestyle.
  • Different types of vehicles, especially vans and pickup trucks, will enter and exit the garage at different hours of the day or night (quite often they prefer to work in the night time or early morning hours.)
  • The vehicles arriving at the stash house will have different license plates on them, including Arizona, California, Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. They may often display paper "buyer" or "dealer" tags. They may also use these license plates interchangeably with all of the vehicles.
  • You may not see anyone at the stash house for several days or weeks, and then there will be a lot of activity (as described above) at the house.
  • There may be an accumulation of advertisement material on the front door.
  • Stash house occupants do not usually put their trash out for regular collection, but instead, prefer to dump it at another location themselves.

 

What You Can Do About Drugs In Your Neighborhood

The Mesa Police Department provides several ways a citizen can use to report narcotic-related activity anonymously. However, it is generally preferred that the identity of the person providing the information be given. This will assist officers if arrests are made and testimony in court is required. If a citizen requests anonymity for fear of retaliation or any other reason, officers will conduct their investigation without the identity of the complainant.

A citizen who has a friend or relative they suspect is engaged in narcotic-related activity may also use these reporting options to provide us with any pertinent information. It is not necessary for the investigating officer to know the identity of the complainant. If the identity of the complainant is divulged to the investigating officer, at the request of the complainant, this information will be kept confidential.

If you wish to send information anonymously regarding drug activity within the City of Mesa, information can be reported online, by text message or by using a smart phone app.

If you do provide information, please leave as much of the following information as you can. Any information you leave will remain confidential.

  • Names and descriptions of people involved
  • Addresses/phone numbers at location of suspected activity
  • Drug type, if known
  • Vehicle description/license plate
  • Weapons involved
  • Type of activity observed