About 2 kilograms of methamphetamine were likely made to produce the amount of waste byproduct discovered in two barrels found a week ago near the Carson River, a Drug Enforcement Administration official said.
The estimated street value for that amount of meth is between $20,000 and $25,000, said Larry Beck, DEA's enforcement supervisor in Northern Nevada.
"It's a very typical amount produced at meth labs," Beck said. "What's unusual is the method of disposal."
For some reason, the suspects sealed the waste in oil barrels. Even though these barrels were found in a stream only yards from the Carson River, none of the acetone and caustic materials leaked into the water.
"It's highly unusual for somebody to put meth waste into drums and seal it," Beck said. "Usually, these people are disprespectful of the environment. Usually, the waste is dumped right into the ground or in the toilet."
No arrests have been made, sources said.
A resident found the two 55-gallon barrels April 25 in a stream about 25 yards from where it empties into the Carson River. Early the next morning, the Carson City Environmental Health Department and Sheriff's Department investigated.
No fingerprints could be lifted but the barrels were removed and their contents analyzed. Each held about 20 gallons of acetone and caustic materials typically associated with meth labs.
The DEA so far this year has identified some 40 or 50 meth labs in Nevada, not counting Las Vegas. The number of meth labs nationwide are almost doubling each year, Beck said.
"Nevada ranks high in meth laboratories," Beck said. "Right now, meth is the predominant drug and by far the largest production we see is in the Northwest (including Northern Nevada). By far, meth is the most serious drug situation we are seeing in the Northwest."
Beck said the waste byproduct found in the stream barrels represents a typical meth lab, which "cooks" chemicals to produce meth in the amounts of about a half to one pound in one cooking.
"This was probably done in a couple or four cooks," Beck said.
Meth sells for about $5,000 per pound. The 2 kilos amounts to about 4-1/2 pounds.
The Tri-Net Narcotics Task Force is seeking the source of the barrels. Tri-Net has has investigators from the Carson City, Douglas County and Lyon County sheriff's departments, the DEA and the Nevada Division of Investigations.