Endangered Children Latest Victims Of Residential Meth Labs

Consider this New Year's prediction. Police expect methamphetamine will surpass cocaine this year as the second most popular illegal drug in America, second only to marijuana.

And if you think the drug only involves dealers and addicts, you're in for a shock. It's also having a dramatic impact on innocent children.

An off duty sheriff's deputy smelled a strong chemical odor that led police to what they describe as a residential meth lab and resulted in three arrests at a home off Old Highway 49. Along with finding various chemicals and paraphernalia, officers also discovered something else that's becoming all-too-common: four children, including a seven month old baby.

The home with the suspected "meth lab" faces Old Highway 49 at the entrance to "Crestview" subdivision. Along with arresting three adults, raiding officers took three children and a baby into protective custody.

"A 17 year old. A 15 year old. An 11 year old. And a seven month old were in the house," said Pat Pope with the Gulfport Police Department.  "They're now in DHS custody," he added.

Unfortunately, it's become all too common. Police video from Colorado shows a meth house bust where officers discovered a one year old. That same kind of thing is now happening in South Mississippi.

"It's called "drug endangered children". And it's something that law enforcement is having to learn about too. We've never really had to deal with drug endangered children before," Pope explained.

Children growing up in such an environment face obvious dangers. Chemicals used to manufacture meth can be harmful or deadly.

"And they're leaving chemicals laying all over the place. Pipes. We found pipes in this house, meth amphetamine pipes laying around where the kids could get into it," said Pope.

Nearby residents know this corner house mainly for the transmission and car mechanic work done there. They never suspected anything.

Several neighbors told WLOX News they were shocked to learn about the drug bust in front of their neighborhood. Police say it's further proof that so called "meth houses" can be found virtually anywhere. They say there is no "typical" neighborhood for making the drug.

"Pretty much that becomes the center of their life. That's all they care about is methamphetamine. Even to the exclusion of their children and their own personal welfare," said Pope.

Police arrested a couple and their daughter at the home late Monday night. They're still looking for  32 year old David Frederick Waldo. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call the Gulfport Police Department.