Revealed: Drug houses in your neighbourhood
Police have uncovered alleged meth labs and grow houses close to schools and junior sports clubs this year, as criminals attempted to cash in during COVID-19.
Drug production in suburban homes has increased at such a rate that professional chemical cleaning companies have warned any tenants moving into a rental to get the property tested for drug residue contamination.
Hundreds of cannabis plants and meth labs capable of producing millions of dollars worth of the harmful drug have been found across the state, from the far north to the NSW border.
The Courier-Mail can today reveal the map of Queensland's alleged drug house hot spots in 2020.
LOCATIONS OF ALLEGED DRUG HOUSES
These include a hydroponic cannabis production system that was allegedly seized metres from Holy Cross Primary School at Trinity Park, north of Cairns.
Also found was an alleged meth lab with links to the Mongols found within metres of the Jimboomba Soccer Club, south of Brisbane.
"Police have seen a range of locations and environments used to grow cannabis or produce methamphetamine locally, with productions varying in size and set up," a police spokeswoman said.
"In the case of clan labs, detections continue to decline across the state, which can be attributed in part to the importation of drugs from overseas and ongoing policing strategies."
Among the discoveries this year was a sophisticated underground cannabis crop allegedly discovered on the Gold Coast in January, along with an alleged meth lab found in an abandoned shed in Mackay following a grass fire nearby.
Police have praised the public for coming forward with crucial information that has paved the way for detections and arrests.
"It is important to acknowledge that many of these detections across the state are based on information provided to Crime Stoppers and Policelink direct from the public," the spokeswoman said.
"The community provides an important role in this respect, identifying suspicious activities, odours and persons."
According to two separate meth lab cleaners, the number of precautionary tests for drugs and cleans are rising.
Meth Lab Cleaners Australia manager Brodie Witon said there are no particular hot spots on the southeast but rather calls come from all over, with reports coming for a variety of reasons.
"Whether it may have been people living there who are known drug users or a lot of police interactions or there are people who are renting properties who are feeling nauseous, sick and get rashes," Ms Witon said.
Ms Witon said a house was considered uninhabitable if there was over 0.5µg of methamphetamine residue contamination per 100 sq cm, she has cleaned properties with up to 300µg.
DunRite Decon's Steve Annells said there were different characteristics that came with the higher-levels houses.
"A lot of the time you'll find the house is a mess, then the second level is when addicts become complacent and throw hygiene out the window, there might be a hole in the wall," Mr Annells said.
"The third is you'll find rusty door hinges and metal and maybe some discolouration."
POLICE: HOW TO SPOT A DRUG HOUSE ON YOUR STREET
* Items of a suspicious nature including improvised heating and cooling mechanisms
* Other used materials (cold and flu packets, empty pseudoephedrine blister strips, gas cylinders or butane fuel cans, stained coffee filters, pH testers or test strips, water pumps) surrounding a property
* An unusual chemical smell
* Plastic containers (with or without chemical labels) at the premises
* Laboratory glassware being carried into a premises or present at a premises
* Fan or pump type noise coming from the premises
* Residents never putting their rubbish out or burning their rubbish
* Little or no traffic at a residence during the day but frequent traffic late at night or at odd hours
* Windows blackened out or extra effort to ensure windows and doors are covered or reinforced
* Evidence of unusual electrical work surrounding the premises
* Noticeable hoses and pipes near windows or doors
* Installation of extractor fans (especially in garages/sheds)
* Recently rented premises where residents are rarely there
* A new tenant willing to pay rent months in advance using only cash
* New rental applicants who try to avoid background checks
* Chemical/reaction waste
Originally published as Revealed: Drug houses in your neighbourhood