80
      Thursday
      90 / 74
      Friday
      89 / 73
      Saturday
      84 / 71

      Could a meth lab be right next door?

      The Prestwick Community sits behind walls, fences and even guards that surround the neighborhood. So on Thursday, when Horry County police arrested six people for running a methamphetamine lab, some in the neighborhood were caught off guard.

      "I think it's safe to say I was surprised, but I wasn't shocked," said Prestick resident Jim DeFeo.

      DeFeo lives on Links Drive in Prestwick, the same street where the county's Hazardous Materials team worked to neutralize any harmful material.

      Prestwick is a private community where you must be a resident or receive permission by the guards to be on the property without being considered a trespasser.

      DeFeo said he wasn't shocked because he realizes crime can happen anywhere.

      "The HOA has been very prudent and diligent here in telling us that it is a gated community, but it's not a fortress," said DeFeo.

      An undercover drug agent who has been involved in several methamphetamine lab busts tells NewsChannel 15, most of the time, people who live near meth labs are unaware.

      "Sometimes people have suspicions, but they often keep to themselves and not tell anyone," said the agent.

      The agent said spotting a meth lab can be difficult and law enforcement officers go through extensive training to recognize them.

      "It's hard to spot something like that. The things you can watch out for is are they clearing out a lot of trash; bottles, heet and peroxide."

      Heet is a fuel additive that helps with the break down process of the ephedrine, which is an ingredient in meth.

      A chemical smell is often associated with a meth lab, but neighbors don't always smell the odor, said the agent.

      "It can often smell like cat urine or a very strong man-made chemical smell," the agent said. "Everything you need to make meth you can buy at Walmart."

      A house with a meth lab usually has a lot of activity with people coming in and out, carrying bags. The residents make several trips to the grocery store per day, said the agent.

      "You usually can't see in people's grocery bags, but to make meth, you need a lot of striker matches," said the agent.

      The red phosphorous at the end of matches is another ingredient used to make meth.

      "It's a totality of the circumstances," said the agent. "If you see something going on that you find suspicious, then maybe you should ask yourself, hey we need to look at this."

      And that's just what the neighbors did in this Prestwick community, leading to the latest bust.