Yesterday, authorities in Amherst, New York, stumbled upon an unnerving discovery underneath the parking lot of a Walmart: meth lab equipment and suspected methamphetamine, as reported by WTVR.
“Spray paint can, some various chemicals, a liquid we believe is methamphetamine,” Amherst Police Department Captain Scott Chamberlin was quoted with regard to what was found in a culvert located underneath the western New York Walmart parking lot.
This episode is far from the first foray into drug production in the parking lots of Walmart. Meth labs have been found in vehicles on numerous occasions, as reported by New4Jax, the St. Augustine Record, and NewsNet5 Cleveland.
It appears that whoever is responsible for the suspected Amherst Walmart meth lab was actually producing the drug in a covered drainage canal, open at each end, and easily accessible by anyone. Footage shown by WKBW depicts a graffiti-covered culvert filled with several inches of water and mud, strewn with garbage, seemingly suggesting that when working in the suspected meth lab, the suspect(s) would stand in water and an unpleasant environment.
The makeshift meth lab is reported to have been accessed by authorities through a manhole located in close proximity to the Walmart itself. The set up was extensive enough that hazardous materials experts were summoned to assess the situation and could be seen in footage at the site wearing full-body protective gear and respirators.
“How could that possibly be?” one Walmart shopper asked. “What are people thinking? I’m shocked.”
Another resident expressed astonishment at the find underneath the community’s Walmart, stating his concern about his children playing in the area. Concerns were also raised about the potential threat of any accidents, such as explosions, potentially occurring in an underground system of tunnels.
WKBW reports that authorities have stated that the Amherst community was never “really in any danger” from the suspected meth lab. The Walmart remained open while police investigated and cleared the scene.
No suspects are thought to have been identified in the case. Security footage with the Walmart and other local businesses is reported to be under review by authorities.
Perhaps demonstrating how common the use of methamphetamine appears to have become, as well as the ubiquitous nature of Walmart itself, is that a meth lab has also been found inside a Walmart store.
In March 2015, police were called to a Muncie, Indiana, Walmart to remove a meth lab that was found in the store’s washroom, as reported by CNN.
In that incident, security footage revealed a male walking into the washroom with a backpack. Similar to the Amherst Walmart meth lab find, authorities equipped with protective suits and respirators were required to clear the scene. It was reported that the store continued to operate while the bathroom was investigated.
Muncie police told CNN that the incident was the first that they had encountered where a methamphetamine producer had set up a lab in a public place in such a brazen manner. At the time, abandoned houses were cited as popular sites for methamphetamine labs. Indiana police have stated an observed increase in public meth production on a state-wide basis.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) operates 11,527 stores in 28 countries and employs 2.3 million people, as reported by Yahoo Finance. In 2016, Walmart posted revenues of $482.1 billion. This number is expected to grow 0.80 percent to $486.2 billion in 2017 by Wall Street analysts who follow the retail behemoth.
No comments appear to have been made by Walmart with regard to the Amherst meth lab incident. In the Muncie, Indiana, meth lab outing, Walmart managers were said to have provided authorities with security footage and the company’s full cooperation.
[Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images]