PCPD Reporting More Meth Labs Than Previous Years

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Panama City Police continue to investigate an alleged meth lab explosion that seriously injured one person Sunday night.

Investigators say it's the third meth lab they discovered since the beginning of the year, and it could be the beginning of a trend for more shake'n'bake meth labs.

Panama City Police received a 911 call from a pay phone, around 8:30 Sunday night reporting a meth lab explosion at a house on West 22nd Plaza.

When officers arrived there was no one inside.
It didn't take long for them to find 32 year old Douglas Moates hiding in a nearby house.
They say was suffering from severe chemical burns over most of his upper body and face.
Police say he was also having trouble breathing.

"Had we not been as persistent in locating him, he may not have survived his injuries," said Police Chief Scott Ervin.

Unfortunately, this case is not unique.
Police say they busted 27 meth labs in 2012, triple the number in 2011.

"The previous year, we had nine. We saw almost 27, but we started seeing the trend. It was a significant increase over the previous year," said Ervin.

Panama City police are gearing up for more potential meth lab activity this year.

"We had to also make the investment of some additional protective equipment for the officers that work in these environments."

While Panama City police report an increase in meth labs, Bay County Sheriff's investigators say they're seeing fewer, but they admit, those numbers might be deceiving.

"We're now experiencing Ice. Ice is the pure form of methamphetamine. We started seeing that here in Bay County," says BCSO's Captain Faith Bell.

Bell say criminals are traveling to buy Ice instead of manufacturing meth.

"Atlanta seems to have become a hub for this activity for most of the east coast," said Captain Bell.

Either way, it's all part of a very dangerous meth trend.

"From what I've seen with the Ice, it's much more intense and the side effects are much worse."

Moates is now in a burn center in Georgia.

Police believe someone else may have been in the house with Moates before or during the explosion.
If you have any information, call Crime Stoppers at 850-785-tips.