"It permeates the wall and goes into the adjacent rooms," he said. "Every time they open the door, I'm sure a cloud of odor escapes their room."
He said most of the suspects stay at the hotels because they have nowhere else to go.
"A lot of these people have overstayed their welcome with other associates and they need to have the power and space to be able to operate the lab," he said. "A hotel is very simple place to do that -- and I think they know eventually they will be caught."
An increase in these cases has changed the way Department of Health and Human Resources officials test hotels for contamination. Before March 16, officials only closed and tested rooms physically connected to the site of contamination, Lewis said.
On that date, four team members from the Martinsburg High School boys basketball team were taken to CAMC General Hospital and later released after being exposed to meth at the Motel 6 on MacCorkle Avenue SE.
Seventeen of the motel's 118 rooms had been closed for contamination, possibly from a meth lab discovered there in January. The hotel unknowingly rented the team one of those contaminated rooms. Everything inside, including the boy's basketball uniforms and personal belongings, was destroyed.
Because of that incident, Lewis said, officials now close the entire hotel after a lab is found. State law dictates that no civilian can be present during this testing.
"We allow them to close down voluntarily," Lewis said, "but they pretty much have to anyway."
Lewis said that, overall, about 103 meth labs have been discovered in West Virginia as of May 21. This number is expected to be on par with 2011, which had 229 labs discovered.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.