'Shake 'n Bake' meth harder for police to track

Missouri has long been known as one of the meth capitals of the world.

Manufacturers take advantage of the many rural locations in the Show-Me State to set up their smelly, easy to spot meth labs.

But police say meth cooks are getting smarter and harder to track.

Four people have been arrested in Maries County on felony drug charges after making meth the new way.

Its called "shake-and-bake" meth and it doesn't take more than a few chemicals and an empty soda bottle.

Only just a few years ago, making meth required an elaborate lab with open flames, intense chemical smells and hundreds of pseudoephedrine pills.

But now its a whole new world, and law enforcement officials said that its just part of the ever evolving, cat and mouse game between cops and criminals.

"They know what they used to do and they know we've kind of caught onto that," Callaway County Sheriff Dennis Crane said. "So now they've changed their strategy. So here we go again, evolving."

The "one-pot" or shake-and-bake approach allows meth cooks to make their drug faster, easier, and cheaper.

Sudafed pills are crushed and mixed with common household items: like drain cleaner, starter fluid, lithium battery strips, and ammonium nitrate, found when you break open an ice pack.

All you do then is shake the bottle. No open flame is required. The dangerous chemical reaction starts in seconds, creating a volitle mix in a flimsy plastic bottle, ready to blow up any second.

The few ingredients needed can be stored in one bag, making this an on-the-go production often done in the car.

The cooks can then toss the bottle out the window when they're done, which makes tracking "shake and bake" meth production nearly impossible for police.

Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman said his deputies have found nearly a dozen discarded shake-and-bake bottles along the roads, some near where kids often walk and play.

Heitman said you should call your local law enforcement if you see a suspicious bottle. Do not try to throw it away yourself.

"Typically, the bottles will have a brownish residue in the bottom and there's going to be a chemical odor with it," Hietman said. "Do not get that close to it. It can reactivate once you start agitating or moving the bottle, which can cause an explosive reaction."

Heitman said that meth cooks also have to worry about the dangers of mixing chemicals.

"If you're doing a big manufacturing process you've been doing it a while and you're probably more cautious," Heitman said. "But these are a lot of younger generations, 20 year-old-kids, that are picking this stuff up off the Internet and they're running with it. They're going to get themselves killed."

The meth industry is affecting the public in another way.

The Missouri legislature passed a new bill last year that requires landlords and people selling homes to notify the renter or buyer if their house was the site of a meth lab.

Heitman said this new bill is depreciating many rural homes.

Crane said that the meth production industry is becoming more dangerous to the public.

"The more that they're doing it out in the open, versus staying at their own place and doing it, that's going to expose more people," Crane said. "That is a big concern."