In Virginia and across the country, meth labs are once again on the rise. Incidents of meth production fell dramatically in 2007 to about 6,000 nationwide. Last year they climbed to over 11,000 again, during a time when enforcement agencies can hardly afford to enforce the laws and dismantle the labs they uncover.
Part of the reason for the increase in meth is the ease in which it is now being produced. What used to take an entire room and numerous bottles, tubes, and chemicals, can now be done in a single 2 liter bottle with just a few ingredients from the local drug store.
The federal government did their part to fight meth labs, when the larger labs were being used, by enacting purchasing limits on pseudoephedrine, a crucial component in the meth recipe. But these smaller labs don’t use that much of the controlled ingredient and therefore fly under the radar much of the time.
Called one-pot labs, this method of meth production allows people to create a small amount of the drug in a relatively short amount of time. But this method isn’t any safer than the larger labs of years past.
They are still highly explosive and toxic. They can still cause fires and deaths. And the police still have to dismantle these labs using specially trained officers and equipment—costing money that many don’t have to spare.
In Christianburg, for example, the police quickly went through the money distributed by the feds for the purpose of cleaning up meth labs. Now, they have turned to money that was earmarked for other purposes, using 40% of the $15,000 budget to pay police informants. Unlike some other drug operations, these labs rarely result in cash seizures that can offset the costs of clean up.
In Bristol, just this week, three adults were arrested and charged with felonies when they were found to be operating two meth labs in a home with three children present. In all, the trio is facing 13 felony charges. They are accused of using the same small-batch method described above, and police found numerous bottles of prior meth-cooks littering the home.
With increased meth production comes increased meth enforcement. As the number of people using and making meth climb again, so will police attention to the drug and its related problems. If you are arrested and accused of manufacturing or merely possessing meth, we may be able to help.