Trends In Meth Lab Seizures

Meth lab seizure data shows us the spread of meth across the country, from the Western states to the Midwest to the South. Is the Northeast next? Note the sharp decline in meth lab seizures in the Western states. Is this due to less drug use or to the superlabs moving down to Mexico after tighter regulations were enforced in the United States in 2004 and 2005?15

Clandestine Meth Laboratory Incidents* 15

1999

2001

2003

2005

Missouri

439

2,180

2,885

2,170

Iowa

352

578

1,272

753

Tennessee

143

495

953

861

Indiana

151

521

979

915

Michigan

10

122

267

341

Oklahoma

404

806

1,068

217

Oregon

264

587

419

189

Nevada

290

259

131

52

Washington

599

1,480

1,011

522

California

2,579

1,883

1,287

468

Arizona

380

312

140

75

Adapted from: National Clandestine Laboratory Database, 1999-2005.15

*The majority of seized labs are home labs, not superlabs. Incidents included findings of labs, lab equipment, chemicals, and dumpsites.

medications that could be sold at one time by retailers. These regulations applied to grocery stores, drug stores, pharmacies, mail order, and any other retail distributors of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products.41

In 2003, Canada regulated pseudoephedrine and joined forces with the DEA to crack down on illegal exportation of this precursor. From Steve Suo, investigative reporter for The Oregonian:

"The [Royal] Canadian Mounted Police would pursue these loads of pseudoephedrine from Ontario, follow it all the way up to the border at Detroit and hand off the surveillance to the DEA, which would pick it up and follow it all the way across the country to California, where they in some cases actually were able to pursue the loads up to meth labs and then shut them down." 11

SUPERLABS MOVE TO MEXICO

The U.S. DEA was becoming bad for business, and the Mexican drug cartels moved south, where pseudoephedrine was unregulated. In 2004, Mexico legally imported 224 tons of pseudo-ephedrine, an amount that was twice as much needed to make cold medicine. The extra 100 tons was cooked into meth, and smuggled, like other drugs, across the border into the United States. (At least six cartels are known to exist today.)11

Continue reading here: Stopping Supply At The Source

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