NEW ORLEANS -- Authorities decked out in protective Hazmat gear, seizing dangerous chemicals used to make meth amphetamines – it’s the type of scene that has been unfolding recently across the metro area.
Last Thursday, Jefferson Parish deputies arrested four people during a bust at a town house in Harvey. According to officials, investigators discovered meth-making chemicals inside.
"I've been all around the country and spoken with people all around the country that's seen methamphetamine every day, and they'll tell you, be on the lookout for it because it's in the area," said Maj. Chad Clark, commander of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office narcotics division.
Clark said just last month, while investigating a murder in Chalmette, his crews seized 10 pounds of the drug.
Clark said it was the largest meth bust in St. Bernard history, and now authorities on both sides of the lake say concerns over meth labs are growing.
"They have become more mobile. We find that they do pop up at apartment complexes and hotels, automobiles outside of a building," said St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain, during an interview earlier this month.
Strain’s comments came in the wake of an explosion of a suspected meth lab at a Slidell apartment complex -- a blast that left the suspect hospitalized.
Local authorities point out that meth labs, once thought to be a rural problem, are now showing up in urban centers.
In September, neighbors looked on as agents found chemicals allegedly used to make the drug inside a French Quarter apartment.
"You know, it's scary that it was explodable," said one bystander at that crime scene.
Even after busts are made, what's left are potentially contaminated areas – a reason authorities are calling on residents to be alert for these dangers in their communities.
"We wanna get the message out, be on the lookout for any kind of strange activity, any kind of odors you smell, batteries cut open, plastic bags, hot and cold ice, propane bottles, and all of the stuff that goes into these labs," Clark said.