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Bricker
03-16-2012, 11:33 AM
In the TV series Breaking Bad, a high school chemistry teacher turns to meth production and quickly outclasses his competitors by use of his superior skills in the lab.

How realistic is this? That is, realistically, there must be little innovation in the area after all this time. I can accept he'd make better "product" than some half-assed amateurs, but could someone with outstanding skills in the lab really make a meth product that outshone the meth produced by the pros?

Simplicio
03-16-2012, 11:38 AM
I always wondered about that to. Not so much whether Walt could make high quality meth, but whether his customers would care. I usually don't see alcoholics spending a lot of time seeking out aged whiskey or fine wines. I figure meth-heads would be the same way.

engineer_comp_geek
03-16-2012, 11:41 AM
I'm skeptical as well. I was under the impression that folks buying meth aren't exactly particular about the quality of the product, as long as it gets them high.

Not my area of expertise, though.

grude
03-16-2012, 11:43 AM
The chemistry is fairly simple, any trained chemist could make meth in their sleep.

The hard part is getting the reagents and precursors and glassware that while not essential make things 100X easier and more professional, all this stuff is if not actual controlled substances then "watched" chemicals and equipment. There was a bust some years ago involving a ebay seller selling stuff like red phosphorus, turned out it was a DEA front.

This is what bugged me about Breaking Bad, they show Walter stealing glassware from work that he claimed was broken but no mention is ever mentioned where he is getting the chemicals needed to synth the large batches of meth he is making.

TriPolar
03-16-2012, 11:45 AM
This is what bugged me about Breaking Bad, they show Walter stealing glassware from work that he claimed was broken but no mention is ever mentioned where he is getting the chemicals needed to synth the large batches of meth he is making.

IIRC they go to the Home Depot, and occasionally steal from chemical supply companies.

Simplicio
03-16-2012, 11:47 AM
This is what bugged me about Breaking Bad, they show Walter stealing glassware from work that he claimed was broken but no mention is ever mentioned where he is getting the chemicals needed to synth the large batches of meth he is making.

Eh? Its a plotpoint in the first season:



Walt and Jessie steal a drum of chemical precursor from a warehouse.

Later, presumably the Gus provides it.

Busy Scissors
03-16-2012, 11:54 AM
Its purification that separates the men from the boys in organic chemistry - at least as far as this sort of simple stuff goes. So mixing a bunch of chemicals (the reaction) is generally straightforward. Taking that crude reaction and purifying it to pure methamphetamine would be where a modicum of skill came in, and would separate an expert from someone with no training.

Scumpup
03-16-2012, 11:54 AM
I always wondered about that to. Not so much whether Walt could make high quality meth, but whether his customers would care. I usually don't see alcoholics spending a lot of time seeking out aged whiskey or fine wines. I figure meth-heads would be the same way.

While I was never personally a member of the drug subculture, I've known many people who were. Marijuana users fairly obsess over the quality of one hybrid versus another. Heroin users seem to value a quality product to the point where "China White" is a term that even a fair number of non-users have heard. I knew a lot of cokeheads and they definitely got excited if they found a source of coke that hadn't been stepped all over before it hit the streets. I don't know any meth users, or I don't think I do anyway, but why wouldn't they value a very high quality product that would allow them to get higher or stay high longer for their hard-earned dollar?

DCnDC
03-16-2012, 11:58 AM
I usually don't see alcoholics spending a lot of time seeking out aged whiskey or fine wines. I figure meth-heads would be the same way.

I don't know much about meth, but you know alcoholics aren't just homeless guys chugging bottles of Wild Irish Rose. I'd venture that a significant percentage of alcoholics are of the "high-functioning" variety, those with good educations and well-paying jobs who drink a lot of high-end booze.

There are high-end and low-end varieties of almost all drugs, from alcohol to tobacco to marijuana to cocaine. There's $5 Mad Dog and then there's $130 Glenlivet. There's GPC and then there's Chesterfields. There's brown Mexican schwag and then there's that bright green shit with the crystals and the little red hairs. There's crack and then there's whatever Charlie Sheen is snorting.

Not that I would know anything about any of that, it's just what I've heard...

Simplicio
03-16-2012, 12:06 PM
While I was never personally a member of the drug subculture, I've known many people who were. Marijuana users fairly obsess over the quality of one hybrid versus another. Heroin users seem to value a quality product to the point where "China White" is a term that even a fair number of non-users have heard. I knew a lot of cokeheads and they definitely got excited if they found a source of coke that hadn't been stepped all over before it hit the streets.

I know people that are really into sub-types of marijuana, but marijuana isn't a narcotic. The alcoholics and opiate addicts I've known have been notably un-picky, so I figured meth-addicts would be similar. I have no idea if that's really the case, though. And happily I haven't been in close contact with that many alcoholics or opiate addicts, so even there I may be over-generalizing.

TriPolar
03-16-2012, 12:19 PM
IANA a chemist or specialist in addictive drugs, but I wonder if variations of meth exist, and the stuff that Walt makes could be more potent, or more importantly for business, more addictive.

Bricker
03-16-2012, 12:34 PM
In the show, Walt's meth is blue, supposedly a result of his unique formulation. When the DEA analyzes it, one agent refers to it as "old school biker meth."

madmonk28
03-16-2012, 12:38 PM
The issue with well made meth is that it will get a user higher than meth made by a less skilled chemist. While I am not a drug user, I have been friends with a number of hardcore drug users and let me assure you that they are obsessed with finding high quality drugs because high quality equals better and longer highs.

treis
03-16-2012, 12:39 PM
In the show, Walt's meth is blue, supposedly a result of his unique formulation. When the DEA analyzes it, one agent refers to it as "old school biker meth."

Yes, that's because he used a different process after stealing the drum of something.

I don't think Walt got rich because his product was better. Yes, it seemed like users preferred his stuff, but that didn't allow him to take over the market. He got rich when he hooked up with Gus, who was running a full scale production facility, and needed someone who knew his stuff.

pravnik
03-16-2012, 12:50 PM
Meth users definitely care about quality and people known to be particularly good "cooks" are sought after, but ironically some of the less complicated methods can produce a higher quality. In the 80's meth production was largely about using phenyl-2-propanone or P2P, and then about synthesizing P2P when it became a controlled substance. I understand the P2P method is fairly complicated and takes some knowledge about chemistry and produces a relatively low quality methamphetamine, but it used to be the predominant method in the 1980s. One prison informant a colleague of mine spoke to was a chemist (degree and everything) for a motorcycle gang in the mid 80's; once a month they'd drive out to the house in the country where he worked, pick up the meth and drop off a couple of women and a stack of bills as thick as his wrist.

Nowadays the P2P method is overshadowed by the Red Phosphorus and the Birch Reduction (aka "Nazi") methods, which are less complex and produce both a higher yield and quality, particularly the Red Phosphorus method. These methods are largely responsible for the meth explosion of the last 20 years or so and were responsible for Mexican nationals wrestling away the meth market from motorcycle gangs in the south, but haven't necessarily become widespread all over the country. Some quick googling shows that in 2000 eight meth labs were busted in Pennsylvania (which would barely be a busy weekend in Texas), and of those eight five were P2P method, two were Nazi method, and one was Red Phosphorus. So theoretically, yes, what the show deescribes could be possible: if the area only has a few labs making smaller quantities of meth with the P2P method, it would be possible for somebody to come in and dominate the market by setting up a superlab to make large quantities of higher quality meth with the Red Phosphorus method. That's pretty much exactly the opposite of making "old school biker meth," though.

Silver Fire
03-16-2012, 12:50 PM
Meth users who are have the option often will choose a product of higher quality. Not all of them, certainly; some of them want to spend the least amount of money to get high, I'm sure, just like some people go to McDonalds because they aren't so interested in haute cuisine as they are the simple need to eat.

Meth is judged kind of like diamonds. Crystals can range from cloudy and yellow to colorless and practically transparent. Some of them are sort of chalky when you break them up and some snap cleanly in half like a piece of hard candy. Really bad meth (i.e., it has made its way around the block a few times and has been stomped all over by everybody) isn't even really crystals anymore, but just a bunch of powder.

The good crystals, the ones that are still of good size, color, and clarity, are entirely different from anything else (taste and smell, the nature and duration of the effects as well as the amount of substance needed to produce them, etc) and the users who can afford to will gladly pay a premium for them.

I've never seen the show being discussed and I've never manufactured illegal drugs, so I'm not really addressing the OP specifically as much as the idea that meth users in general don't care about quality.

pravnik
03-16-2012, 01:04 PM
Actually come to think of it, the reason the P2P method generally has a lower yield and potetency may be because of its relative difficulty and the greater knowledge of chemistry it requires. If Walter is a super badass chemist, maybe he's tweaked (heh) the P2P process to make higher quanities of higher quality. I've only seen two or so epsiodes of the show, so I couldn't say.

coremelt
03-16-2012, 01:54 PM
I love Breaking Bad, but I thought the whole "purity" thing they do with Walter and Jesse seeing who can cook the most pure is silly, because at the end of the day they will cut it to sell it, and they're smuggling it within the US so there's not really much point in making something super pure.

For the kingpin drug boss, why would he care if it's 90 percent or 99.9 percent pure really? He'll just ask his cook to make a larger quantity of it if it's less pure.

Scumpup
03-16-2012, 02:06 PM
The purer it is, the more you can cut it and still have a salable product. Simply put, if you start with 1 kilo of 100% pure product, you can cut it to have (let's say) 4 kilos of street product. If you start with something only 50% pure, you can't cut it to 4 kilos and have something easily salable.

Dereknocue67
03-17-2012, 03:26 AM
You can no longer make money with meth in this country. Our government restricted the sale of Pseudoephedrine and that solved the entire meth problem. Right? :dubious:

WarmNPrickly
03-17-2012, 08:23 AM
It's true that psuedophedrine has become more and more difficult for allergy sufferers to get, but these enterprising young fellows (http://heterodoxy.cc/meowdocs/pseudo/pseudosynth.pdf) have found a way to get psuedophedrine from much easier to obtain starting materials. (warning PDF).

Frylock
03-17-2012, 08:38 AM
FTR I don't think it's accurate to say Walt got rich.

He had rich-people amounts of money in his basement for a while, but he never actually got around to being rich.

Kevbo
03-17-2012, 10:16 AM
It's true that psuedophedrine has become more and more difficult for allergy sufferers to get, but these enterprising young fellows (http://heterodoxy.cc/meowdocs/pseudo/pseudosynth.pdf) have found a way to get psuedophedrine from much easier to obtain starting materials. (warning PDF).

Brilliant!

yabob
03-17-2012, 10:30 AM
Actually come to think of it, the reason the P2P method generally has a lower yield and potetency may be because of its relative difficulty and the greater knowledge of chemistry it requires. If Walter is a super badass chemist, maybe he's tweaked (heh) the P2P process to make higher quanities of higher quality. I've only seen two or so epsiodes of the show, so I couldn't say.
Or, one can assume he's making a superior product through the P2P process by dint of simply being a competent chemist with proper equipment, as opposed to some doofus following a "recipe" they found on the internet, using a lot of kitchen utensils, even if the production from pseudoephedrine should be higher quality. For illegal drugs, it goes with the territory that one is likely to get a dubious product, synthesized by somebody who didn't really know what they were doing - off potency, and contaminated with God knows what. For a tv show, it's at least reasonable to assume that he could build a reputation by simply producing a reliable product, perceived as "high quality" simply because it was produced properly. For a comparison to moonshine whiskey, he's not producing a finely aged bourbon, he's just producing something that has reasonable proofage and isn't laced with methanol. A drug user might be able to make that sort of discrimination.

Oddly, I watched the first season and loved it, but never watched the subsequent programs. I'm not sure why.

Martin Hyde
03-17-2012, 02:04 PM
I love Breaking Bad, but I thought the whole "purity" thing they do with Walter and Jesse seeing who can cook the most pure is silly, because at the end of the day they will cut it to sell it, and they're smuggling it within the US so there's not really much point in making something super pure.

For the kingpin drug boss, why would he care if it's 90 percent or 99.9 percent pure really? He'll just ask his cook to make a larger quantity of it if it's less pure.

This sort of came up in the show, actually. Walter was known to make meth at like 99.9 percent pure (or even a touch higher), whereas another trained chemist who worked for Gus got to like 97 percent or so, I think Jesse got to 93-94 down in Mexico.

The kingpin told the other chemist that 97 was fine, and to not even worry about the 99.9 percent meth. It was actually the other chemist who convinced the kingpin they needed the guy who could make the 99.9 meth. The kingpin was dubious, but the other chemist (we can call him Gale), I think just really wanted to work with someone capable of making such a chemically pure product--and not even in a professional lab.

Down in Mexico Jesse was upset about his lower purity meth, but it wowed everyone else, no one with the cartel cared, to them 93-94 percent was freaking amazing.

Rigamarole
03-17-2012, 02:52 PM
I can accept he'd make better "product" than some half-assed amateurs, but could someone with outstanding skills in the lab really make a meth product that outshone the meth produced by the pros?

The thing is, the vast majority of meth is made by half-assed amateurs. They aren't making this shit at Pfizer. It's being made largely in basements and attics and seedy motels by rednecks and gangsters. Someone who is going to approach it with completely professional equipment, ingredients, and training is a very rare breed.

Entheogen
03-17-2012, 03:06 PM
I always wondered about that to. Not so much whether Walt could make high quality meth, but whether his customers would care. I usually don't see alcoholics spending a lot of time seeking out aged whiskey or fine wines. I figure meth-heads would be the same way.

Aged whiskey and fine wine don't necessarily pack more "oomph" than a magnum of cheap'n'dirty. One bottle of fine scotch can't come close to the buzz one gets from a few two-dollar bottles of Chinese cooking wine.

Drug users will pay more for a more potent product, especially dealers, especially when it's the type of drug that can be cut with foreign material, increasing their profit margins while still selling a comparable product potency-wise.

Larry Mudd
03-17-2012, 04:49 PM
For the kingpin drug boss, why would he care if it's 90 percent or 99.9 percent pure really? He'll just ask his cook to make a larger quantity of it if it's less pure.There's less pure and there's less pure. Powdered meth that started pure but is actually 10% mannitol is substantially different from meth that's actually 10% precursors, catalysts, and random junk.

treis
03-17-2012, 09:37 PM
I love Breaking Bad, but I thought the whole "purity" thing they do with Walter and Jesse seeing who can cook the most pure is silly, because at the end of the day they will cut it to sell it, and they're smuggling it within the US so there's not really much point in making something super pure.

For the kingpin drug boss, why would he care if it's 90 percent or 99.9 percent pure really? He'll just ask his cook to make a larger quantity of it if it's less pure.

Walt made a big deal that they weren't going to cut their product. So in the show, what they were selling on the street was as pure as it came out of the lab.

ExcitedIdiot
03-19-2012, 11:50 AM
This sort of came up in the show, actually. Walter was known to make meth at like 99.9 percent pure (or even a touch higher), whereas another trained chemist who worked for Gus got to like 97 percent or so, I think Jesse got to 93-94 down in Mexico.



I highly doubt a user could tell the difference between 97% and 99.9%.

Imagine a user buys 1 gram of meth. They divide it into 4 piles, roughly 250mg each. At 99.9% it has almost 250mg of meth, at 97% it has about 240mg of meth. Meth addicts aren't likely to have a scale capable of dividing that gram accurately.

Entheogen
03-19-2012, 01:21 PM
I highly doubt a user could tell the difference between 97% and 99.9%.

Imagine a user buys 1 gram of meth. They divide it into 4 piles, roughly 250mg each. At 99.9% it has almost 250mg of meth, at 97% it has about 240mg of meth. Meth addicts aren't likely to have a scale capable of dividing that gram accurately.

"Coke" scales are cheap, better ones are damn accurate. They sell 'em in variety stores nowadays.

http://www.digitalscale.com/Precision.htm

Hypno-Toad
03-19-2012, 01:30 PM
Walt doesn't have to make a product that appeals to meth users. He makes a product that appeals to meth sellers. Certainly, those people are concerned about quality. Not just for the ability to dilute the product but also for reliability and reputation. They can charge their distributors a little extra because everyone knows they push the good shit.

Arkcon
03-19-2012, 01:36 PM
I highly doubt a user could tell the difference between 97% and 99.9%.

Imagine a user buys 1 gram of meth. They divide it into 4 piles, roughly 250mg each. At 99.9% it has almost 250mg of meth, at 97% it has about 240mg of meth. Meth addicts aren't likely to have a scale capable of dividing that gram accurately.


Yeah, but what's that 3% made up of? Red phosphorous, iodine, and dimethylamine? The first two hurt when ingested and the last one hurts and smells like spoiled fish. And Jesse does remark, at the very beginning, "This is Glass." He knows people respect the visual appearance of better purity.

Lemur866
03-19-2012, 01:41 PM
There's less pure and there's less pure. Powdered meth that started pure but is actually 10% mannitol is substantially different from meth that's actually 10% precursors, catalysts, and random junk.

Right. There's a big difference between a pure drug cut with harmless bulk agents (done all the time in the legal pharmaceutical market), and a drug mixed with god knows what toxic substances. 99.9% pure isn't good because there's 2.9% more meth than 97% pure, it's good because there are only .1% toxic contaminants instead of 3%.

njtt
03-19-2012, 01:57 PM
I keep seeing this thread title as "Making a fortune with really good math," which I believe some people really have done, on Wall Street, for instance. (Well, maybe not really good math, but pretty fancy.)

Hypno-Toad
03-19-2012, 02:06 PM
I keep seeing this thread title as "Making a fortune with really good math," which I believe some people really have done, on Wall Street, for instance. (Well, maybe not really good math, but pretty fancy.)

Doing a little math here and there won't hurt you. But over the long run it really adds up.

billfish678
03-19-2012, 02:18 PM
If I make some damn good meth that is beautiful blue crystals am I am going to be able to charge 10 times the going rate and "get rich"? Probably not.

If I make some damn good meth that is beautiful blue crystals that immediately tells everyone this stuff is actually THE stuff, has no nasty contaminants, and isnt actually just mostly baby powder can I easily sell what I make? Probably so.

You can probably get rich selling decent amounts of meth for the market value, much less 10 times it. The thing is, you gotta convince the buyers (either wholesale or retail) that you are selling the real deal. If you have crap or stuff that looks like all the other crap stuff the slackers are making and selling you need an army to get rid of it. If you have the good stuff, it sells itself (though perhaps not at some absurd premium).

Thats the whole beginning premise of Breaking Bad. They want to make a few good batches, with no overhead and an easy sale. Which I think is perfectly believable and realistic.

Also, keep in mind a good chemist ain't going to ruin large fractions of the hard to find key ingredients with bad batches, which is probably the main reason "chicken man" wanted "Heisneburg".

cardinal_fang
03-19-2012, 10:12 PM
I read an article (http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Life+inside+Calgary+ecstasy/6204010/story.html) a few weeks ago that purports to interview an ex-manufacturer, now reformed, who claims a storyline much like that in the OP. He used his "university-level chemistry education" to found and operate a high-grade ecstasy lab (complete with custom glassware), eventually "refining [his] process to attain maximal yields." He states:By efficiency I mean either it ran quicker, used fewer ingredients (or less costly ingredients) or produced a more pure product for each step of the process. I modified my original recipe with their advice on more than one occasion, resulting in a really high yield from my initial precursor and in turn reduced my costs.Given the condition of some of the other labs mentioned in the article, I suspect that the reality is similar to what yabob states upthread; someone with a modicum of knowledge and diligence can build a better product than "yahoo" types with no regard for safety or the environment. Whether this translates into a substantive market advantage, I can't say. Interesting read, though. Disclaimer: this is a story told by a convicted felon, the drug was ecstasy (not meth), I've never watched Breaking Bad, do not taunt Happy Fun BallTM, YMMV, etc.

skdo23
03-20-2012, 02:39 PM
I recall reading in a magazine article that using road flares as a source of sulfur, instead of matches, which is the norm, yields a superior product. However, I cannot provide any cites or additional details in support of this.

Washoe
03-20-2012, 03:26 PM
I recall reading in a magazine article that using road flares as a source of sulfur, instead of matches, which is the norm, yields a superior product.

You mean red phosphorus, not sulfur.

skdo23
03-21-2012, 11:29 AM
You mean red phosphorus, not sulfur.

Most likely. The article was not very technical, and neither was my reading of it.

ebbill
03-17-2013, 04:42 AM
While I was never personally a member of the drug subculture, I've known many people who were. Marijuana users fairly obsess over the quality of one hybrid versus another. Heroin users seem to value a quality product to the point where "China White" is a term that even a fair number of non-users have heard. I knew a lot of cokeheads and they definitely got excited if they found a source of coke that hadn't been stepped all over before it hit the streets. I don't know any meth users, or I don't think I do anyway, but why wouldn't they value a very high quality product that would allow them to get higher or stay high longer for their hard-earned dollar?

Yes, meth users do appreciate the quality of the meth that they choose to consume. There are two types of meth depending on the method and ingredients. There is L-meth or levorotary and D-meth or dextrorotary the later of the two carrying a higher sentence because of its strength. Many drug dealers like to stick with one cook to ensure that they receive the same kind of product for their customers but there are those who cut corners by leaving out ingredients or skipping a step in the production stage. The d-meth is the most desirable because it is the purest of the two. Now there are many other kinds of meth that may be produced but they are of poor quality and may cause undesirable side effects like extreme paranoia, deep states of depression, hallucinations, and rashes.

Today, what I have found is that there is less and less of the d-meth being manufactured because the ingredients are difficult to procure, the cooks are dead or serving long sentences in prison, or the cooks of today are just not as informed as the old school cooks. In fact, I quit using because the stuff that is being made today just isn't like it use to be. I am nearly four years clean this November after using for about two years. Before that I had 14 years clean and sober, but it was the time before this that I was really into the sub culture and using. That is when the meth was quality stuff and would produce the desired energy and self-confidence many users seek. It was great for weight loss and cleaning. But those days are over.

Leo Bloom
03-17-2013, 06:09 AM
What is the etymology of "the Nazi method?"

yabob
03-17-2013, 10:06 AM
What is the etymology of "the Nazi method?"
The synthesis is reputedly similar to that used by the Germans during WWII. Amphetamines were widely used to keep exhausted soldiers going by the American, British and Japanese as well. I suspect that the manufacturing techniques to produce amphetamines for military use by all sides were similar, in actuality.

coremelt
03-17-2013, 12:25 PM
I don't think Walt got rich because his product was better. .... He got rich when he hooked up with Gus, who was running a full scale production facility, and needed someone who knew his stuff.

yes exactly. An amateur wouldn't know how to use the equipment Gus had to scale up production to produce 400 pounds a week. Walter knew how to use all the industrial equipment to run a "super-lab". Walt obsesses over the quality, but to Gus the important thing is just that he can run a lab that pumps out that much meth and would turn up and be reliable.

Gus had a LOT of people to pay off. He couldn't afford to have a flaky unreliable and unprofessional cook. Thats what made Walter rich. His ability to run a large scale lab, not his quality obsession.

Wesley Clark
03-17-2013, 01:03 PM
There was a documentary on I believe PBS that discussed the purity of meth and the rates of addiction. During certain periods purity would go up or down based on government policy. If there was a crackdown, people would start smurfing and making it in 2 liters which decreased purity. Sometimes professional chemists in Mexico and south america would the the ones making it in super labs, so the purity would go up.

It was found that there was a correlation between the purity of the meth on the street and the rates of addiction, although I don't remember how strongly the two met. So in that regard, there could be something to the idea.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/interviews/suo.html#1

http://www.methhelponline.com/images/METHFIG1.jpg

Leo Bloom
03-17-2013, 01:47 PM
... If there was a crackdown, people would start smurfing and making it in 2 liters which decreased purity.

Is "smurfing" drug slang like "step on it?"

Or is it English slang I'm just not hep to?

Amateur Barbarian
03-17-2013, 01:50 PM
Yes, that's because he used a different process after stealing the drum of something.
Methylamine. It's a major plot point in several seasons and many major events turn on the availability and acquisition of more of the goo.

Which is a substance, as more than one chemist has pointed out, that Walt should be able to synthesize by the barrel.

Washoe
03-17-2013, 02:28 PM
Yes, meth users do appreciate the quality of the meth that they choose to consume. There are two types of meth depending on the method and ingredients. There is L-meth or levorotary and D-meth or dextrorotary the later of the two carrying a higher sentence because of its strength. Many drug dealers like to stick with one cook to ensure that they receive the same kind of product for their customers but there are those who cut corners by leaving out ingredients or skipping a step in the production stage. The d-meth is the most desirable because it is the purest of the two. Now there are many other kinds of meth that may be produced but they are of poor quality and may cause undesirable side effects like extreme paranoia, deep states of depression, hallucinations, and rashes.

Today, what I have found is that there is less and less of the d-meth being manufactured because the ingredients are difficult to procure, the cooks are dead or serving long sentences in prison, or the cooks of today are just not as informed as the old school cooks.

Er…almost every sentence of this contains some sort of grievous factual error. I don’t have time right now to run through them one by one, but most of these errors derive from the fact that the levorotatory enantiomer not only has no psychoactive properties, it is perfectly legal to manufacture or possess.

Crawlspace
03-17-2013, 03:01 PM
Er…almost every sentence of this contains some sort of grievous factual error. I don’t have time right now to run through them one by one, but most of these errors derive from the fact that the levorotatory enantiomer not only has no psychoactive properties, it is perfectly legal to manufacture or possess.Yeah, I caught that too. Snorting D-Meth will get you high and make the party last for days. Snorting L-Meth will unclog your sinuses.

There's a Crocodile Dundee joke in here somewhere.

chorpler
03-17-2013, 04:31 PM
Er…almost every sentence of this contains some sort of grievous factual error. I don’t have time right now to run through them one by one, but most of these errors derive from the fact that the levorotatory enantiomer not only has no psychoactive properties, it is perfectly legal to manufacture or possess.

Indeed, you can buy the levo-methamphetamine at the grocery store, in the form of the Vick's Inhaler that looks like a tube of chapstick.

Wesley Clark
03-17-2013, 05:24 PM
Is "smurfing" drug slang like "step on it?"

Or is it English slang I'm just not hep to?

Smurfing is when crimes are committed on a small, local scale to avoid the authorities who would be more prone to notice you committing larger scale crimes. Meth manufactured on a large, international scale (by trained chemists in south america in nations where the precursor materials are easier to get) will be much higher purity than those made by users without the scientific background working with chemicals they have to extract from various OTC products (batteries, sudafed, drano, paint thinner, etc).

Simplicio
03-17-2013, 06:08 PM
Smurfing is when crimes are committed on a small, local scale to avoid the authorities who would be more prone to notice you committing larger scale crimes. Meth manufactured on a large, international scale (by trained chemists in south america in nations where the precursor materials are easier to get) will be much higher purity than those made by users without the scientific background working with chemicals they have to extract from various OTC products (batteries, sudafed, drano, paint thinner, etc).

I usually hear it in contexts where there's some legal limit on something, so you break up transactions into smaller chunks that come in just below the limit. For example, banks are supposed to report deposits of more then $X to the Feds. So money launders "smurf" their deposits into chunks of $X-1 dollars.

Or in the context of meth, laws prohibit anyone from buying more then X amount of cold medicines, so producers have to smurf their purchases, buying the limited amount in multiple stores.

Toucanna
03-17-2013, 11:47 PM
{snip} For example, banks are supposed to report deposits of more then $X to the Feds. So money launders "smurf" their deposits into chunks of $X-1 dollars. {snip}
I seem to remember reading somewhere that it's a crime to break up deposits in order to avoid triggering the mandatory reporting. I'll have to go look up a cite for that.

Toucanna
03-17-2013, 11:52 PM
Cite: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title31/html/USCODE-2011-title31-subtitleIV-chap53-subchapII-sec5324.htm

razncain
03-17-2013, 11:59 PM
In the TV series Breaking Bad, a high school chemistry teacher turns to meth production and quickly outclasses his competitors by use of his superior skills in the lab.

How realistic is this? That is, realistically, there must be little innovation in the area after all this time. I can accept he'd make better "product" than some half-assed amateurs, but could someone with outstanding skills in the lab really make a meth product that outshone the meth produced by the pros?

I think it’s realistic, if he is producing a product that has higher purity which very few seem to posess, but I'm not sure that is the most important thing. I think very few can make the higher grade though, but if they can and it's high purity, it should sell quick. I imagine getting the equipment to produce large amounts without drawing attention might not be too difficult to purchase as well. It seems like the biggest problem and trick is probably always going to be getting the ingredients on a regular basis to make massive amounts. Kind of hard to do in any country, especially the US.

I’ve seen the movie Blow and also read the book which dealt with cocaine. Purity again is what counted. George Jung made $100 million in a short amount of time just by smuggling in it. The demand was huge because he had high quality product that was very pure, and other dealers didn’t have any problem paying top dollar, because they had plenty of room to cut it and make a small fortune themselves. There is a scene in the movie where they are testing the purity, and one of the junkies (played by Bobcat Goldthwait) is checking for the purity of it by testing a small amount on a heating plate, and the temperature keeps climbing higher and higher, he was freaking out, he knew that wasn’t just ordinary cocaine. I see no reason why this wouldn’t apply to purer forms of meth too.

I’m guessing 98% of them don’t really make a damn thing, and get hooked on their own shit, and can’t think straight enough to know what the hell is going on, other than spending all of their time trying to get their next fix.

Anyone seen the movie Spun? Funny as hell, and it gives you a good idea of what is going through the mind of a meth user. If you haven’t seen it, and think you want to, get the unrated version. It has an all star cast, John Leguizamo, Mickey Rourke, the late Britanny Murphy, Deborah Harry (Blondie), and a few others.

I watched the PBS special on meth that Wesley Clark mentions in post # 46 which dealt with purity and addiction. I thought it was very interesting showing this correlation.

Noel Prosequi
03-19-2013, 07:11 AM
I spent a fair bit of time putting these guys in jail. I am not in the US, but I suspect the principles are universal.

There is a complex set of competing imperatives at play.

Most cooks are ill-educated, learning at the hands of equally ill-educated clots, and teaching each other old wives tales along with actual chemistry. They approach meth cooking like food cooking. The recipes are all "Mix 4 ozs of X with 3 ozs of Y dissolved in Z and heat till it looks like A". They have no capacity, as professional chemists do, to assay the purity of the precursor products and the product along the way. They have no capacity to maintain temperature properly.

I am told by the government chemists who do the analysis of this sort of thing that technique is important in getting maximum yield. Precursors are expensive and hard to get. High purity is a consequence of efficient use of the scarce precursors. It also has the advantage of the final product not containing unused reagent that might be highly undesirable, or require extra steps (which the cook might only dimly understand) to wash it.

Our market is dominated by locally manufactured speed. The logical consequence of the above is that production is dominated by suitcase labs. Cook sources himself or is supplied with precursors, and does a quick cook in some out of the way place. Time is of the essence - the process stinks, and the longer you take, the higher the risk of detection. His product feeds into a distribution network of some sophistication. The occasional bad batch gets treated as an aberration; the occasional arrest doesn't do too much damage to the overall system. It's all run on a complex system of debts, credit, and threats enforced by bike gangs.

Going large scale has obvious benefits if you can source large quantities of high grade precursors, but you need to be really confident in your cook. And the obvious risk is the "eggs in one basket" problem.

Rationally, having a genuine professional chemist would present a dilemma. It would be tempting to have him do all your cooking, but that would expose both of you to serially increased risk of arrest. Alternatively, to risk it all on one big cook means you have to max out your capital in accessing lots of precursors. If your cook gets arrested, you still have to pay back the debts you got into. Same as if he rips you off.

Best bet is to use him to up skill other cooks in your stable, but that represents a security risk as different arms of your operation get to know each other.

All up, better to have a good cook than a mediocre one, but maximising the benefits of access to him requires surfing all those dilemmas.