Illegal drug trade in the United States is a dangerous and thriving industry. Meth is one of the most dangerous drugs out on the market today. Not only is the chemical drug itself dangerous, but the entire industry is dangerous. Meth labs are found throughout this nation and even in the most unlikely of places. Most individuals would consider themselves safe from neighborhood meth labs because they only exist in trailer parks, bad or run-down neighborhoods or on the outskirts of nice cities. The truth is that more and more meth labs and drug houses are being discovered in nice, normal, small, and middle class communities. Drug manufacturers and dealers are finding this locations to be safer because they are harder to detect by law enforcement. They also find it easier to intimidate their neighbors into keeping quiet. For that reason, here are five signs that there’s a meth lab in your neighborhood and what to do about it.

Smells are a Clear Sign

Meth labs utilize several dangerous chemicals in the production of the drug. Sulfuric acid is just one of the many hazardous chemicals used in the meth cooking process. If you notice a smell of ammonia, ether, acetone or cat urine (without the presence of cats) chances are there is a meth lab next door. It is best to contact other ‘trusted’ neighbors if they too notice the strong odors. These meth ‘labs’ are not labs at all. Instead they are makeshift ‘labs’ that are open to windows and fresh air constantly. It will not be difficult to detect this smell. If other neighbors notice the smell too, then you should contact your local law enforcement about the issue. Never confront the home or individuals suspected of cooking meth.

Blacked Out or Boarded Windows

This is the most obvious and clear sign that something is illegal is going on. Only people who are conducting illegal activity blacked out or board up their windows. If you notice a home or apartment that has their windows completely blacked out or boarded up, chances are that they are engaging in activities that are illegal. Once again it is best to contact law enforcement in this matter. Meth dealers are dangerous and should not be confronted.

Black Smoke

Cooking meth requires the burning of chemicals, as such there is normally black smoke that is created. In the winter time black smoke can be harder to detect because it could be the fire from a fireplace. The truth is that smoke from fireplaces, wood, does not burn black smoke, but rather a greyish white. Therefore, any black smoke should be considered a chemical or otherwise. Meth labs are incredibly unstable and fires or explosions are commonplace. If you witness black smoke, especially in the summer or warmer months, contact law enforcement or the fire department immediately. Black smoke signals chemical fire and whether it is the house itself or the meth process it is dangerous.

Suspicious Waste in Trash Cans

Like any laboratory, the waste it produces is not the same as that of a normal home. Meth labs use a number of different chemicals that normal homes do not need. Neighbors suspecting a home to be a meth lab should look for empty antifreeze containers, duct tape, drain cleaner, lantern fuel and coffee filters stained red. If you or a neighbor spot an exorbitant number of these items contact the local authorities with your suspicions.

Paranoid or Odd Behavior

It is normal to have one or more of those annoying neighbors in a lifetime, but meth lab neighbors will be of a different breed. They will have numerous signs posted about trespassing, guard dog, or other obscure security measures. They will also display ‘shady’ behavior like putting their garbage in a neighbors can, having lights on and off at odd times, and strange all all hours visitors. Meth lab workers must wear industrial type of gloves that cover most of the arms because of the chemical splatter. If you witness them wearing these gloves or horrible spotty burn markings on their arms, then chances are you live next to a meth lab.