More dangerous meth made in ‘super labs’ most used drug in Atlanta

ATLANTA — It’s cheap, strong, and the most-used drug in metro Atlanta, but it’s not opioids. It’s meth, but not the same kind of meth that people used 20 years ago.

Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Justin Gray learned it’s made differently in ‘super labs,’ and it’s even more dangerous.

“And I knew the very first time I ever did it, I was in trouble,” said Deena Davis, who first tried meth in her early 20s.

“I just knew I liked it way more than I was supposed to,” said Davis.

The former Lithia Springs High School cheerleader and homecoming queen said at first it made her feel great.

“It made me feel like I was invincible,” said Davis.

But it slowly began taking over her life, even after she became a mother of two girls.

“My family stepped in and took custody of my kids. I was like, ‘what are you doing?’ You know, like, now you’re that girl. Now you’re the girl who lost custody of her kids,” said Davis.

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But the meth people are using today is different.

“There’s no way people could have done it for as long as we were doing it. It’s just, I’ve seen it ravage people and families physically, mentally, socially,” said Davis.

The meth she took was made with ephedrine. But after the law changed in 2006 to crack down on ephedrine sales, meth made with common chemicals flooded the street.

“There’s P2P, which is short for phenyl-2-propanone,” said Michael Nolan, an addiction counselor in Atlanta and founder of the non-profit Just Love More, Inc.

Nolan said the way the body and the brain react to P2P meth is different. There’s no racing heart or energy boost to warn users to take a break.

“People are just taking so much of the drug and getting so high, that it’s causing rapid physical decline, rapid mental health issues,” said Nolan.

He said P2P meth causes people to feel extremely paranoid and isolated, making it harder to get them help.

“That connection is harder than ever and human connection is harm reduction,” said Nolan.

P2P meth is cheap. It’s not just a problem among the homeless; all kinds of people are using it.

“They are everywhere. They are in our offices. They’re in our churches,” said Nolan.


“Not only has meth not gone away, it is still by far the most prevalent drug we see here in metro Atlanta,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert Murphy.

He said metro Atlanta is a major meth hub.

Mexican cartels are making hundreds of millions of dollars off P2P meth. “They’re using what we call super laboratories to mass produce multiple 100,000-ton quantities,” said Murphy.

The Mexican-made meth is usually smuggled into the U.S. as a liquid. It’s dried so it can be sold in meth conversion labs.

Metro Atlanta is one of the few places where the dangerous work is done.

“It’s highly toxic, very explosive,” said Murphy.

It poses a risk to everyone.

“They’re dumping in backyards, into sewer drains 55-gallon drums of stuff that is extremely dangerous,” said Murphy.

Sometimes meth is hidden with legit products like soft drinks or toys. In 2018, the DEA found $2 million worth of meth disguised as Disney figurines in Gwinnett County.

“The were wax figurines of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck… They were made completely out of meth and painted the same, everything, it was unbelievable,” said Murphy.

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Most of today’s meth is almost 100% pure.

“They can snort it, they can smoke it, can inject it. They pretty much anything, in tablet form,” said Murphy.

Meth laced with fentanyl is a big concern because even a small amount can be deadly.

“Addiction had literally consumed my soul,” said Davis, appearing in a public service announcement for the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.

She got help and is in recovery. Davis is now 13 years sober and sharing her story to help others.

“I feel like it’s, it’s time for us to start talking about recovery, and showing people that there’s hope,” said Davis.

The DEA tells Channel 2 it is not practical to ban the chemicals used to make P2P meth because they’re used for all kinds of things. It is focused on targeting the Mexican cartels.

To learn more about some of the areas recovery facilities, check out The Never Alone Clubhouse.