Meth lab discovered by maintenance workers

Two apartment complex maintenance workers got an outdoor decontamination shower Monday after they moved a “shake-and-bake” meth lab they found.

David Williams of Vancleave and Allan Chapman of Biloxi were picking up trash around the Beauvoir Manor Apartments in Biloxi when they found a black backpack in the woods.

They looked inside and found the remains of a meth lab.

“When I opened it up, I had a pretty good idea what it was,” said Williams.

What he didn’t know was that opening the bag and moving it put the two workers at risk of contamination from the chemicals, and potential explosion of the volatile mixture.

“People need to know that it’s important not to touch this stuff,” if they find it, said Sgt. Scott Freeman of the Biloxi Police Department. “If you find a suspicious package, call the police.”

A group of apartment residents, including children, gathered nearby and watched as narcotics officers donned yellow jump suits and respirator masks to take samples from the “bones” of the meth operation.

“That’s what makes it dangerous,” Freeman said. “If a child finds it, they think they’ve got a new backpack for school.”

Biloxi firefighters set up a make-shift decontamination tent and escorted the workers one at a time behind blankets hanging from trees.

With a stiff breeze blowing on an overcast 50-degree day, the two men had to strip down and be sprayed with a bleach and soap mixture then rinsed off with a fire hose.

“We will never touch another bag,” said Chapman, who said he was “pretty embarrassed.”

Williams, clad in a flimsy white jump suit given to him after his shower, echoed his co-worker.

“I won’t be opening another one, I guarantee you.”

By JOHN FITZHUGH – jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

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