Toward the start of every new year, the Drug Enforcement Agency adds up the number of "meth incidents" from the previous year and divvies them up by state. More than once, Missouri has come out the state with the highest number of meth lab busts.
The latest figures show that 2012 was another banner year in Missouri meth production. When broken down by county, Jefferson County had the second highest number of labs in the country.
"It's astronomical," Corporal Chris Hoffman of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department tells Daily RFT.
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Missouri had the most meth labs in the country: 1,825 sites discovered in 2012. That's a significant drop from 2011 -- 2,075 labs -- but that doesn't mean the problem is getting any better.
Hoffman says Jefferson County saw a slight dip in their numbers after new laws made getting over-the-counter cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine -- a crucial ingredient in cooking -- more difficult. However, "smurfing" or buying up cold meds from lots of different stores, seems to be the norm these days.
"It feels like the problem is staying the same," says Hoffman. "We make a valiant effort."
A new CNN chart broke down all the meth sites discovered by law enforcement by county. Jefferson had 472 busts in the last eight years. The number one county was Tulsa, Oklahoma, which tallied 979 meth incidents.
Hoffman says the vast majority of these busts are just individuals cooking for themselves, as opposed to any kind of organized, high volume operation.
"The biggest way they're making it now is the one pot method. All the chemicals needed go into a two liter soda bottle or gatorade bottle or water bottle," he says. "More often than not there are children exposed to it."
Pretty bleak. Why couldn't all 472 cook houses have turned out to be adorable, family-run maple syrup operations?