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Crime Briefs

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page SM03

Warning About Meth Labs

St. Mary's County Sheriff David D. Zylak (D) asked residents last week to be on the watch for signs of illegal activities connected to the methamphetamine trade.

Statistics released recently by the National Institute of Drug Abuse indicate that there are more than 15,000 methamphetamine labs in the country, nearly half of them in nine states in the nation's heartland.

Zylak said that the drug is easy to make and that St. Mary's County residents need to be aware of signs of such drug activities in their neighborhoods.

"This drug has the potential to cause complete and total destruction of lives, not only for the users, but those around" them, Zylak said in a statement released last week. "The dangers are immense."

The drug can be made from simple over-the-counter cold medications, the sheriff's office said. When these ingredients are combined with certain chemicals and cooked in makeshift labs, the result is a highly toxic, combustible mixture. An explosion is possible at anytime in the manufacturing process.

The sheriff's office said residents should be on the lookout for these possible signs of a home-based meth lab:

• Unusual, strong odors.

• Curtains and blinds on residences that are shut or blacked out.

• Red, chemically stained coffee filters, drain cleaner, duct tape, antifreeze and lantern fuel cans discarded in the garbage.

• Aerosol cans of starter fluid with puncture holes on the bottom.

• Peeled casing from lithium batteries.

• White powder residue.

Chesapeake Beach Fire

A liquid accelerant was poured onto the front porch of a vacant single-family house on D Street in Chesapeake Beach and set on fire Tuesday morning, the State Fire Marshal's Office said.

The resulting blaze caused about $109,000 in damage to that residence, which was undergoing renovations, and three other nearby homes, investigators said.

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