Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

What Else is New? Woman Busted for Cooking Meth Inside Walmart

Meth crystals. Photo: Wikipedia.

For the third time in recent memory, a woman has been arrested for cooking up a batch of meth at a Walmart store.  This time, an unnamed woman and a male companion were busted at a store in Mehlville, Mo., last night. The woman, police say, had been stopped for shoplifting, but a search of her purse revealed more than stolen goods.  Upon seeing a “one-pot” meth lab in the form of a 20-oz soda bottle full of bubbling noxious chemicals, authorities immediately evacuated the Walmart. “It was a violitile situation because the meth lab was actively working but I don’t think anyone was in danger with the way the were able to move everyone out. It was still volatile, but everybody was kept at a safe distance,” said St. Louis County police Lt. Mark Cox.  Cox also added that ”There are lots of one-pot cooks, but taking it into Walmart is very unusual.”

We beg to differ.

In April, a Walmart cleaning crew in Boaz, Ala., found what’s known as a “shake and bake” meth lab – a portable setup used to make low-grade meth – in a women’s bathroom stall at the store. Among the items discovered was an empty bottle with meth residue. Also found were five empty packets of pseudoephedrine, which oddly was Walgreens brand, not Walmart, suggesting that whoever was cooking up meth in the Walmart, was not doing it with Walmart-bought ingredients.

The meth lab discovered in a Boaz, Ala., Walmart bathroom. Photo: Boaz Police Dept.

And in December of last year, police in Tulsa, Okla., arrested Elizabeth Alisha Greta Halfmoon, 45, at a local Walmart for trying to make meth in the store. Surveillance video showed that Halfmoon had been in the store for six hours and was collecting in a bottle the chemicals necessary to produce meth. According to Tulsa Police Officer Shelby, “When I saw her she had just finished mixing sulfuric acid with starter fluid in a bottle.” One responding officer, unaware of the contents of the bottle, discarded it as the chemicals burned through the bottle and his gloves. Shelby continued, “When firefighters were on the scene she made statements to them that is what she was doing, she was attempting to obtain these chemicals and was in the process of trying to manufacture meth. However, she said she was not very good at it.” According to one customer, “Something could have happened, something could have blown up in there.”

Two months prior to that incident, an ex-con named Glenn Reese was arrested at that very same South Tulsa Walmart with a “shake and  bake” meth lab in his backpack.  Like the most recent arrestee, Reese been apprehended on suspicion of shoplifting.  During the investigation that followed Reese’s arrest, Tulsa cops discovered a meth kitchen inside a storm drain near the Walmart.  The volatile cookery was situated precariously close a strip mall and apartment buildings.  The implications of meth labs inside storm drains are dire: a rainfall can wash the meth debris into the public waterways, and car exhaust above ground can cause the lab to explode. Authorities shut down the street above the while the Tulsa Firefighters Confined Space Rescue Team descended into the storm drain to dismantle the lab.

Slideshow: Meth Madness

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