A St. Louis woman is facing a series of drug-related charges after she was caught carrying a soda bottle that apparently contained the ingredients to make methamphetamine in a local Wal-Mart store. The 32-year-old woman was apprehended for shoplifting an unrelated item, when security officers and police responders noticed the 20-ounce bottle in her purse.

As a result, the entire store, full of customers, was evacuated, primarily because the chemicals in the meth compound are highly flammable and explosive. Police officers said that the chemicals could ignite at any time, though no one was injured that evening. Even though the evacuation was largely precautionary, officers said they were better safe than sorry.

Officers said store security had stopped the woman after they spotted her leaving with cosmetics and a purse that she had not purchased. She was taken to a back office, which is where the employees found the bottle of toxic chemicals.

The trend of cooking so-called "one-pot" batches of meth is on the rise, according to officials in St. Louis and elsewhere. Those that make meth makers have come up with ways to create portable batches of the substance that can be quickly hidden from police officers and other authorities. This was the first time in the area that someone has been caught with one of the "pots" in public, according to regional authorities.

In addition to arresting the woman for shoplifting, police donned gas masks and searched the woman's car. There, they found several chemicals that are used in the recipe for meth. Those items were seized as a part of the investigation.

It is not yet clear what the woman will be charged with, though drug violations are certainly slated to be included in her indictment. During the course of the criminal proceedings, the burden will be on the prosecution to prove, beyond any doubt, that the woman intended manufacture meth with the chemicals they found in her possession. It will be very important for the woman and her defense team to investigate all the relevant facts of the case, including the arresting officer's documentation of the arrest, search and seizure. Diligently examining the evidence could make the difference in achieving a favorable outcome in this case.

Source: The Post-Dispatch, "Woman caught cooking meth inside a St. Louis County Walmart," Patrick M. O'Connell, June 8, 2012