The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported on Feb. 17, there were 2,096 methamphetamine laboratory seizures in Missouri in 2011, an increase of more than six percent from 2010.
There was a drop in meth lab seizures in 2006, after anti-meth lab legislation was enacted, but the number has climbed since then.
Jefferson County led Missouri counties with 253 seizures.
For comparison, nearby St. Louis County saw 93 seizures; St. Genevieve County 11; Franklin County 97 and St. Charles County had 111.
Captain Tim Hull of the highway patrol called 2011 “epic” in its increase in seizures.
“It’s a ongoing problem,” Hull said. “Not just for the highway patrol but for all law enforcement agencies across the state and across the country.”
He said the rise can be attributed in part to methamphetamine manufactures getting around laws meant to restrict the legal purchase of pseudoephedrine, the only ingredient in the product that can’t be substituted. Pseudoephedrine is also an ingredient in cold medicines, such as Sudafed.
“They might live where there’s a county ordinance or city ordinance that makes pseudoephedrine a prescription medication, and they can’t purchase it there,” he said, “but they go to the next county over and purchase it with little problems.”
The highway patrol has been keeping track of the purchases for many years.
“We had the paper registration,” he said. “Along came the legislation for the computerized registration, and that’s the system we’re working off right now.”
Though according to an article in STLtoday, some agencies say meth cooks hire large numbers of people, each making purchases within the legal limits, and the database just isn’t adequate.
From the Jefferson County Municipal Enforcement Group Drug Task Force, tips on how to recognize a methamphetamine lab.
- Unusual, strong odors (like cat urine, ether, ammonia, acetone or other chemicals).
- Residences with windows blacked out.
- Open windows vented with fans during the winter.
- Renters who pay their landlords in cash. (Most drug dealers trade exclusively in cash.)
- Lots of traffic - people coming and going at unusual times. There may be little traffic during the day, but at night the activity increases dramatically.
- Excessive trash including large amounts of items such as: antifreeze containers, lantern fuel cans, engine starting fluid cans, HEET cans, lithium batteries and empty battery packages, wrappers, red chemically stained coffee filters, drain cleaner and duct tape.
- Unusual amounts of clear glass containers being brought into the home.