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Winnipeg Police Service


Crime Prevention > Drug Awareness

Street Drugs Most Found in Winnipeg
Clandestine Drug Labs | Indoor Marihuana Grow Operations | Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations | Signs of a Grow Op
Public Notices

Clandestine Drug Labs

Problems in Your Neighbourhood?

Chemically derived drugs, such as methamphetamines, ecstacy and GHB, have made their way to the streets of Winnipeg. These drugs are often produced in clandestine drug labs found in residential homes or mobile vehicles.

Clandestine drug labs cause three main types of harm:
  1. Physical injury from explosions, fires, chemical burns and toxic fumes.
  2. Environmental hazards.
  3. Child endangerment.


Mixing chemicals in clandestine drug labs creates substantial risk of explosions, fires, chemical burns and toxic fume inhalation. Errors and accidents in the process of manufacturing methamphetamines generate a wide range of toxic substances. Phosphine gas, for example, has caused severe lung damage and death.

Poor ventilation increases the risks both of explosions and of toxic fume inhalation. However, good ventilation spreads toxic fumes outside, where they put other people at risk.

Perhaps as dangerous as the chemicals are the criminals involved in methamphetamine manufacturing. Both the supplier and buyer may be “meth” users whose behavior can be unpredictable and dangerous. Weapons and other forms of violence are often directly associated with high-stakes criminal commerce.


Each pound of manufactured methamphetamine produces five to six pounds of hazardous waste. Clandestine drug operators commonly dump this waste into the ground, sewers or streams and rivers.

The cooking process produces a stench described as a mix between battery acid and rotten eggs. Smaller labs can conceal the stench by using a hose to run the fumes from glass cooking flasks through kitty litter before it’s piped outside.

Clandestine labs cause substantial damage to residential homes. They also pose a serious threat to public safety. Chemicals and fumes used in clandestine labs permeate the walls, carpets, plaster and wood, as well as the surrounding soil. These toxins are known to cause cancer, short-term and permanent brain damage and immune and respiratory system problems.


Children are particularly vulnerable to the health effects associated with drug labs. Children are generally more at risk than adults to environmental hazards because:

 They tend to have immature organ systems, faster metabolic rates and weaker immune systems
 They tend to eat more food, drink more fluids and breathe more air per pound of body weight
 They are less able to protect themselves
 Typical behaviors (crawling, dirt eating, hand-to-mouth) expose them to more hazards.

Illegal drug labs pose the greatest danger to children living where drugs are made. Children in labs are exposed to the highest levels of chemicals. They are at risk from explosion, fire and chemical burns and they are often neglected and abused by drug-using parents. Other hazards to children in these chaotic environments may include exposure to weapons, finished drugs and unsanitary conditions.

Evidence of an Illegal Drug Lab

The most important tools to combat the potential epidemic of methamphetamines are education and public awareness. The following examples may indicate production or sale of drugs.

  • Access denied to landlords, neighbors and other visitors
  • Purchases and payments in cash
  • Covered or blacked out windows
  • Unusual traffic and activities, such as excessive night traffic or purchases taking place
  • Burn pits, stained soil or dead vegetation indicating dumped chemicals or waste.
  • Packaging from over the counter ephedrine or pseudoephedrine cold pills
  • Empty containers from antifreeze white gas, ether, starting fluids, Freon, lye or drain openers, paint thinner, acetone or alcohol
  • Compressed gas cylinders or camp stove (Coleman) fuel containers
  • Packaging from Epsom salts or rock salts
  • Anhydrous ammonia tanks, propane tanks or coolers containing anhydrous ammonia
  • Pyrex/glass/Corning containers or other kitchen glassware with hoses or duct tape
  • Coolers, thermos bottles or other cold storage containers
  • Respiratory masks and filters, dust masks, rubber gloves, funnels, hosing and clamps
  • Coffee fillers, pillow cases or bed sheets stained red (used to filter red phosphorous) or containing a white powdery residue
  • Apartments or buildings that smell like chemicals, including sweet, bitter, ammonia or solvent smells

Clandestine laboratories have been found in single and multiple family dwellings, motel rooms, campgrounds, mini-storage buildings and motor vehicles, especially rented trucks.

If you think you have discovered an illegal drug lab or the site of an abandoned lab, immediately contact police at 204-986-6222. Do not enter the area of the suspected lab. Anyone who inadvertently enters a lab should back out immediately without disturbing the cooking process, chemicals or equipment.


Mobile clandestine lab in motor vehicle
A makeshift clandestine lab set up
Garage clandestine lab set up

If you would like a Police Officer to provide a Power Point Presentation on this topic you can forward your request via one of three ways: Due to demand, we request you contact us at least six weeks prior to the event. Most presentations are one hour in duration and handouts are provided. The presentation is free of charge - room to be supplied by the organization requesting the presentation, with a minimum of 20 attendees.

Note: The spelling of Marihuana is from the Criminal Code of Canada

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Last update: July 11, 2018

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