Confiscated meth equipment.
Once again, Missouri has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in the number of meth labs seized in 2011. Law enforcement uncovered 2,096 labs in Missouri last year, an increase of six percent over the 1,960 discovered in 2010.
Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Oklahoma rounded out the top five states for meth lab seizures in 2011, though none of them came close to Missouri. Tennessee, with the second-most meth busts, had 1,687 lab seizures in 2011 -- or 20 percent fewer than Missouri. The Show-Me State has led the nation in meth lab seizures every year in the past decade except for 2010 when Tennessee briefly captured the title.
Captain Tim Hull with the Missouri Highway Patrol tells Daily RFT
that the reason for Missouri's escalating number of meth lab discoveries is threefold.
First, Missouri's law enforcement is aggressive in locating and seeking out meth labs and following up on investigations. Second, Missouri has self-sustaining funding for the disposal of hazardous waste created from meth labs. Other states rely on federal grants for cleaning up meth lab toxins, and that federal funding dried up last year.
And, finally, meth makers are finding ways around regulations in Missouri designed to restrict the purchase of pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient found in cold medicines such as Sudafed that is the key ingredient to meth. While some counties and cities have made pseudoephedrine a prescription-only medication in recent years, others (including St. Louis and St. Louis County) use a tracking system designed to limit how much of the drug any single person can purchase. The tracking system is easy to abuse, say law officials, with meth makers hiring other people to purchase pseudophedrine on their behalf.
"Pseudoephedrine is the one ingredient that cannot be substituted with something else in meth production and there still exists ways for meth makers to circumvent the law," says Hull.
Meth lab seizures in Missouri over the past five years:
2007 - 1,285
2008 - 1,487
2009 - 1,774
2010 - 1,960
2011 - 2,096
*Source: Missouri Highway Patrol