Illegal drug labs are hidden sites where chemicals procedures are preformed to manufacture illegal narcotics. There are many different types of drug labs and they depend on the scale of operation. Large drug cartels will have huge labs in remote locations where large amounts of chemical drugs are being produced. In contrast, an individual might have a small scale operation that they run on their own. These lab operations can be crude or highly sophisticated depending on the amount of money that is put into them. They can even be mobile. In all cases, the labs are kept in remote locations where they will not be seen by the public.
Many of the drug which are produced in drug labs are controlled substances on Schedule II. This means they are used for medical purposes and can be obtained via prescriptions or in hospitals. Due to the watchful eye of the DEA, these drugs can be difficult to obtain on the black market in these purer forms. As a result, organizations resort to manufacturing the drugs themselves in laboratories.
Chemical precursors are the necessary reagents for creating illegal drugs. Many of these drugs are illegal under federal law, and those who are found with these precursors in their possession will be subject to the same strict punishments and having the drug itself. Many drugs are extracted from plants, such as cocaine and morphine, then refined into a useable form through chemical processes. Other drugs such as LSD are created entirely from chemicals.
Seizure of Drug Labs
More labs are being seized in the U.S. today than ever before. This is mainly due to a greater understanding of the manufacturing process and an increased ability to track the chemical precursors. These precursors can be available through both legal and illegal sources. In the last 14 years, the DEA alone has cleaned over 46,000 drug manufacturing sites. In the last several years, over 90% of the drugs labs seized create methamphetamine. However new illegal substances are constantly being produce and the list of controlled substances is increasing.
DEA Drug Clean‑Up
After a drug lab has been seized and all evidence has been processed, the government is responsible for disposing all the hazardous chemicals. The DEA funds the removal process and pays for any tools which are used to remove the hazardous drugs. After the site has been cleaned, then DEA must dispose of anything used since it is a safety hazard. The disposal of equipment and the process of clean-up are governed under environmental law.