Last Wednesday night, on August 28, an explosion set a 2003 Ford Taurus on fire in Lake Worth, Texas, with five people inside. The occupants, four men and a woman, were on fire when they jumped out of the vehicle, and were treated at the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.
A Tarrant County Narcotics Unit investigation has revealed that the explosion was likely caused by the occupants operating a “shake-and-bake” style mobile meth lab. Herschel Tebay, the commander of the unit, told reporters that the unit had received information that one of the car’s occupants was shaking a 2-liter bottle containing the toxic ingredients used to make methamphetamine.
The methamphetamine trade is a growing problem in this country. In the mid-2000s, Methamphetamine overtook cocaine as the biggest drug problem in rural and small town America, and in recent years this plague has become a growing problem in America’s suburbs and cities.
Beside the effects methamphetamine addiction has on its users and their loved-ones, clandestine methamphetamine production poses a direct danger to our communities. Methamphetamine production involves the use of volatile and flammable solvents such as methanol, ether, benzene, methylene chloride, trichloroethane, and toluene. When used in cooking meth, these chemicals can explode, burning and contaminating anything around it. This poses a severe danger to police, firefighters, and other first responders, as well as anyone who has the misfortune to live near or pass by a clandestine meth lab.
Under Texas law, a person who manufactures methamphetamine is strictly liable for any personal injury, death, or property damage arising from the manufacture. This means that, in addition to criminal responsibility, a person operating the meth lab may be held civilly liable to anyone hurt in a meth lab explosion without the need to prove that the operator negligently or intentionally caused the explosion.