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Breaking Bad was an amazing show. Whether you watched it or not, you were probably inundated with episode to episode recaps from everyone following it. With a plot line so intense, it was hard not to gush over every detail with other viewers.

But what happens when someone who belongs to that real life world - someone who deals with this stuff day after day, watches the show?

Thanks to Bob Cooke, a former private investigator for super labs, much like the one Walter and Jesse worked at, we can have the inside scoop on how realistic it actually was.



My kids have been telling for years to watch this show because of my background. I'm only half way into season 2 by way of NetFlix. I've investigated over 100 "Super Labs" and their organizations in California. Super labs are by definition capable of producing 10 pounds, or more, in a cook cycle. A cook cycle usually can be completed in 36 hours or less.

Like anything else made in Hollywood, cop shows are full of inaccuracies. But this show actually isn't too far off. Sponsors want to make money so they can make whatever changes they want.

1. The Drug Creation Process

The most significant error I see so far is when the "chemists" started using P2P (phenyl-2-propanone) when they couldn't find pseudo ephedrine. Sure, the qualitative test may show that it is 80-90% pure. But the users don't care for this old

school biker method. The P2P method is the old stinky meth that everyone remembers smelled like dirty socks when it was produced back in the 70's. Even when cleaned up and converted to "Ice" at 90% it lacks the "kick" like the pseudo method. Users refer to the pseudo and red phosphorus as like jet fuel in comparison. I've seen cases where 10 pounds and more of crystal meth was returned to the broker because the client base didn't like the "high" when used.

2. The Mexican Drug Cartel

The Mexico based cartels created the newer methamphetamine using pseudo ephedrine and red phosphorous over 25 years ago and took control of the meth trade. It exploded in California and our state became the


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"source nation" for methamphetamine. Even though smaller states like Missouri might have 900-2400 meth lab incidents, in a year, California produced more in one Super Lab than all 2400 of theirs.

3. The Lab Equipment

Now with constraints and regulations on the sale of pseudo ephedrine these clandestine labs have changed their recipes. It is common for teams of "smurfs" to go from store to store buying all the pseudo ephedrine they are legally allowed and sell them to

a middleman with a connection to a lab operator. It is also very difficult to purchase the lab equipment that you see on this series. The large round bottom flasks, condensing columns and funnels are difficult to purchase because of federal and state regulations.

4. The Violence

As far as the violence goes I don't think they are exaggerating a bit. Violence in Mexico has grown exponentially with the growth and sales of the methamphetamine industry. Mexico labs are


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producing sometimes a thousand pounds in a cycle. Their biggest problem is getting it across the border.

In conclusion? It's pretty darn good. I'm trying to catch up with the series on the weekends. Now that I'm no longer working major organized crime I can watch it on TV.


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