Class trains to spot a meth lab

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Many people would not even know if they walked into a meth lab –not even those who were looking for it, according to New Mexico State Police Lt. Frank Musitano.

That was exactly the reason Musitano was on hand in Tucumcari from his post in Las Cruces – to give a special meth lab training class on Friday to teach people what to watch out for when in the vicinity of a homemade methamphetamine factory. Officials say the drug, which is illegal and highly addictive, can be concocted out of common household chemicals.

Three four-hour classes were held at the Tucumcari Fire Department, open to police, fire and emergency personnel as well as civilians.

“(The class) allows for the EMS and fire personnel to be aware of their surroundings. Some have been in meth labs and not even realize they were in one,” Musitano said.

Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry said he, too, fell into this category. “Several years ago in Quay County,” he said, “we didn’t know where we had been until after the fact.”

Musitano, who is touring the state to conduct the training classes, said New Mexico as a whole has been seeing a decrease in the illegal labs.

He said in 2002 the state had 100; it went up to 211 in 2003 and dipped to 149 in 2004.

“This year statewide there are 72 labs,” he said. “Ex-labs,” he added.