Bottles suspected in meth-making operation found in river at Basalt
Basalt officials are warning the public to be wary of containers they find in or along the banks of area rivers after police found what are suspected to be cold-cook vessels for methamphetamine.
The Basalt Police Department received a report Wednesday of suspicious bottles submerged in the Roaring Fork River beneath what is known as the 7-Eleven Bridge. The Police Department recruited the Basalt Fire Department for help retrieving the containers.
“It turned out to be 14 bottles consistent with a cold-cook method of making methamphetamine,” Assistant Fire Chief Pete Bradshaw said.
About half of the bottles were directly beneath the bridge while others were slightly downstream, he said, and it was impossible to determine how long the containers were in the river. Some were clean while others had a film on them, he said.
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A member of the Fire Department donned an ice-rescue suit to retrieve the vessels. They are being stored in a packed drum with absorbing material in case they leak.
Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said a concerned citizen initially reported the containers to the Roaring Fork Conservancy. The conservancy, which monitors water quantity and quality issues, contacted the Police Department.
It doesn’t appear that any substances leaked from the containers, officials said. A company has been hired to analyze the contents, Knott said.
“We’re assuming they’re a byproduct of meth,” he said.
In cold-cook meth making, a cold medicine is combined with substances such as ether, lighter fluid and liquid Drano, then shaken for several hours. The resulting compound is extremely volatile.
Knott said it is not known if the containers were placed in the river intentionally or if they were discarded.
“We don’t have any suspects or leads at this time,” he said.
The Basalt Fire Department shared a safety bulletin about the containers with other pubic safety agencies and the information was given to The Aspen Times to warn the public.
The containers used for cold-cook meth would hold less than a gallon and would be filled with a cloudy liquid and some sort of paper or metal fragments. Anyone who spots such a container should not handle it and should immediately report it to authorities, officials said.
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The coronavirus threat delayed the opening of developed campgrounds in the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal valleys. The Forest Service will phase them back in by June 12.