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H :11 CH3 HN CH3 CH3 NH Energizer batteries, their salt and sulfuric acid and cans of Prestone antifreeze, looking for some remote, wooded spot out in the country, away from the highway, where no one would see them at work. The process is straightforward and takes less than three hours. There are several steps involved, and it’s the very first one in which the pseudoephedrine is converted to methamphetamine. “The ammonia went in the bowl first, then the lithium. That would melt and then you sprinkle the pseudoephedrine in it, and you get this sky blue mushy potatolooking stuff,” Mike says, recalling the procedure he and his partner followed. One of them would stir the blue mush as toms of Prestone cans. Meanwhile, inside the bowl, the essential conversion was taking place: Free electronsthe source of the blue colorwere transferred from the lithium to the pseudoephedrine, which would lose an oxygen and a hydrogen. Then another hydrogen atom would bond to what used to be pseudoephedrine, and that was it. The molecule was now methamphetamine. A controlled substance from here on out: Even if they didn’t finish the process, even if they didn’t get any usable product, what Mike and his partner had could put them in prison for a long time. Speed has a long history in North Texas, but the new method of making what has come to be called “Nazi meth” arrived recently. “It has exploded on the scene so quick, it’s so easy to do, and there are so many people involved in manufacturing it, that it has completely overtaxed our capabilities,” says R.W. Smith, commander of the North Texas Regional Narcotics Task Force, whose 11-county, 10,000-square-mile purview includes Wichita County. The task force busted its first Nazi lab in late 1998, and by the following summer they were busting one every week. “Everybody’s trying to do this,” one cook told me. “It’s very easy to do.You don’t have to be a rocket scientist.” Recipes for making Nazi meth are available on the Internet. Around Wichita Falls, the “labs” have cropped up in trailers and motel rooms, houses and sheds, even cars and vans. Sergeant Jim Whitehead, head of the Wichita Falls Police Department’s organized crime unit, says his officers find a lab or lab components roughly twice a week. These aren’t really labs in the usual sense, since unlike other clandestine drug labs, there’s no glassware, no Bunsen burners or pipettes, just bowls and jars and a makeshift contraption for bubbling gas into a liquidsay, a Clorox bottle with a piece of aquarium tubing stuck through it. \(The word “Nazi,” which refers to the process, is probably also a misnomer. Rumor has it that the process was developed by the German army during World War II, and though there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support the rumor, the term has stuck: it’s Nazi meth, or Nazi dope, or “that Nazi shit.” According to the DEA, the name traces back to a Missouri dope cook who wrote up a recipe You don’t have to go to Wichita Falls to find Nazi meth. It’s widely available in East Texas, or Missouri for that matter, CH3 d where the new method of manufacture is thought to have caught on first before trickling down through Arkansas and Oklahoma and into Texas. On the other hand, there isn’t much Nazi meth on the border or west of the Pecos. And though methamphetamine is common in some West Coast cities, the drug seems to be more prevalent in rural areas than in urban ones. According to Patricia Morgan, a UC-Berkeley sociologist who has studied groups of meth users in California and Hawaii, “This drug really takes root in rural communities, communities that are economically declining and isolated.” Its increasingly strong and destructive presence in parts of Middle America earned it the nickname “the crack of the nineties”recently updated to “the crack of the new millennium” on Wichita Falls local news. Methamphetamine was around long before crack, but because it is a cheap, harsh drug whose users are often poor, the popular image of meth use in rural areas has come to resemble the old picture of inner-city crack use in the 1980s: a looming crisis on the other side of the tracks. a. amphetamine b. dextroamphetamine c. methatnphetamine d. ephedrine 5/11/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9