Walmart breaks bad: active meth lab found inside Missouri store

Apparently, corporate profits just aren't enough for some global megabusinesses these days: a Walmart store in South St. Louis County, Missouri was emptied by police when an "active methamphetamine production laboratory" was discovered inside.

Now, it's entirely possible that the "lab" consisted of an empty plastic bottle and some chemicals, but still, you guys: some tweeker was cooking crystal inside a freakin' Walmart.

The store was open and full of customers when it was cleared about 6:15 p.m. Thursday after employees and then police discovered the possible hazardous situation involving the substances used to make methamphetamine, St. Louis County police Lt. Mark Cox said. The chemicals were discovered after police were called about a shoplifter. Cox did not yet know details of the "lab," how it was put together or where in the store it was located.

UPDATE: It gets weirder. This local news report further clarifies that a woman detained for shoplifting at the Walmart "began to make meth in the loss prevention office."

Now that is baller. You're busted for shoplifting, placed in what amounts to a holding cell inside the store, and how do you kill time? Makin' ice!

"Loss prevention had detained the woman, and she was placed in a holding area until officers arrived," reports KDSK-TV.

"While she was detained, she began cooking meth in the holding room."

Sounds like an improvised mobile setup—she's no Heisenberg, and that's no blue.

Good news, though, the store will only be closed for three hours. And, nobody got their face chewed off.

Here's a photo of hazmat guys cleaning it up. And a local article has more details here.

Sarah Flagg, writing on a local page, says it was "a portable meth lab in her purse," also known as “shake and bake.” These are often fashioned on the fly from a two-liter or 20-ounce beverage bottle (the size Bloomberg is outlawing in New York City... coincidence?).

Shake 'n' Bake is an actual thing. It is, as you might imagine, very dangerous: a resulting explosion can kill or seriously burn the "cook" and any bystanders.

(thanks, @harringtonkent)


    1. Speaking as a Libertarian wingnut … I entirely agree!

      Wait a moment … Is the left for or against this drug this week? I’m not sure if I should applaud or say “legalize it AND criticize it” …

  1. i used to live right across the highway from where this wal-mart is. when i saw the news, i thought, “huh – wonder where in missouri it is?” (thinking rural, or something). when i saw the map i did a double-take. i texted an old high-school friend about it, and he said he was just in that store earlier today, since he lives just down the street from where i used to live. crazy world — that takes all kinds of crazy and all kinds of balls to run an meth lab inside an active store!

    1. “So yeah, I was just in that store earlier today, and they were fresh out of meth!”

  2. The “Lab” in this case will turn out to be a mundane two litre plastic pop bottle. 
    Why is it that the people who report on these things often sound so woefully out of touch they seem like they might be high themselves? Hysteria much?

    1. Looks like she kept all the separate active ingredients in the trunk of her car, except what she went inside the Wally’s to steal.

      But, that’s storage, the place the mixing and reactions take place is the lab, which was her purse, which means the usage is technically, figuratively and literally correct. Lab is a broad term for a place for testing, experimentation and practice. In this case, practice. In a bottle in her purse the reactions take place.

      Just like if I had a couple seedlings in my pocket in a starter cup and intended to grow them in my car to bud. Stupid, inefficient due to scale, impractical, really fucking stupid, but technically my car would be a grow op, unless they caught me with the plants still in my pants.

      It’s not sensationalism when it’s actually accurate, and especially when it is widespread, and this practice is by reports becoming popular among street level losers.

    1. As someone with a chemical engineering education, let me just say, “holy shit”.  

      1. I like how he switches tense, person, mood, etc, mid-sentence. You’d think that a career focused on writing reports might provide ample time for practice, but noooo.

    2. Dayum, thanks fir that I couldn’t see how some of the things -didn’t- happen, like ignition, and it’s apparently entirely a matter of chance. 

  3. Oh, right – a “portable meth lab.” And I’ve got a centrifuge for enriching uranium in my shorts.

    That’s like calling some Mentos and a bottle of Coke an “improvised explosive device.” What utter tripe.

      1. Xeni – I just wanted to say my derision was directed at the local police over-hyping what they found, and not your reporting.

        With that description, I would have expected an actual room with lab gear, not a soda bottle.

    1. Every few weeks some dude gets blown up and burnt up by one of these things around here.  They’re very definitely real, and pretty commonly used in states like mine that have criminalized buying large amounts of pills.

      1. Not only do they still make it, they sell it at Walmart.

  4. There goes to show again, fact is stranger than fiction. I don’t think that even the CSI writers would have come up with that one, and hey, they have come up with some pretty weird shit.

  5. The real tragedy is how Walmart has destroyed Main Street America’s ability to host your portable meth lab.  Mom-and-Pop meth lab sites across the country are shutting down, unable to compete with Walmart’s one-stop shoplifting experience and its predatory pricing tactics on ephedrine-based products.  This has to stop, people!

  6. My Baby Momma is from that part of the Greater STL, so I’ve been down there a bunch of times to take my daughter for a visit. There are entire towns that literally stink of people cooking meth, you can actually smell it when you drive through. I didn’t recognize what the smell was, but it’s incredibly distinctive. Once someone explained to me what it was I was sort of blown away.  Meth is that widespread in MO. It’s scary, we don’t have that in NYC.

  7. I just looked up how to do this and it’s a bit more complicated than they make it out to be. And I thought the cop was just being an over-protective nincompoop when talking about the explosion aspect, but no, he was actually pretty spot-on, there.

    I also love how the recipe uses drain cleaner, sulfuric acid, and lithium sourced from batteries.

    Personally, I prefer that my drugs are synthesized using reagents which are definitely not just peeled-apart batteries. How can that be legit?

    1. I dunno — it’s not like the final product contains anything particularly gross (other than the methamp itself, of course).  And, unlike the higher-class, “organic” alternative, you can’t “cut” a shard with, e.g., baby laxative, cheap speed, or something like levamisole.

        1. ” I don’t know how to tell you this, but we have like the least picky customers in the world.”  (Breaking Bad)

  8. I’m holding out for artisanal  meth sourced from organically grown Ma huang and small-batch potato vodka. Plus, I know a guy in eastern Germany who’s salvaged some cave-aged lithium from a Stasi-era “mental hospital” where political prisoners were subjected to chemical restraints.

    How can people possibly shop at Wal-Mart?

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