By The Raleigh Telegram
RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Justice and the State Bureau of Investigation said in statements to the press that methamphetamine drug lab busts in total numbers were up in 2012.
State Bureau of Investigation agents investigated around 460 meth labs in 2012, compared to 344 meth labs in 2011 and 235 labs in 2010.
However, officials said that the numbers are a little misleading, as many drug users are now making their own crystal meth using the so-called “one-pot” method, which often involves making the drug in small quantities in simple containers such as a plastic two liter soda bottle.
“Approximately 73 percent of the meth labs busted in 2012 used the one pot method,” said the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office. ”One pot labs, also known as shake and bake labs, make smaller amounts of meth than previously seen larger meth labs. Criminals can cook meth in a plastic soda bottle using a small amount of pseudoephedrine, the illegal drug’s key ingredient found in cold medicine.”
According to the NC Attorney General’s office, fighting meth use in the state has been made easier with the strict regulation of cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine. In years past, the medicine was often bought in large quantities and then “cooked” to make crystal meth.
“Making it harder to get the key ingredient has prevented an increase in the number of larger labs and has forced some criminals to use the one pot method,” said Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office.
People who buy those cold medicines can no longer do so without having their name and address recorded into an electronic database at pharmacies and stores. The electronic system records if someone has been trying to buy larger quantities of the medicine and can block those purchases, says the state.
“Approximately 54,000 purchases, a total of more than 66,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine, were blocked last year in North Carolina by pharmacies using the system, called the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx),” said state law enforcement officials.
The problem has been especially acute in the Appalachian Mountains and the numbers for 2012 seem to reflect that.
The North Carolina counties with the most meth lab busts in 2012 were: Wilkes (59 labs), Wayne (27 labs), Catawba (26 labs); Burke (24 labs); and Anson (21 labs). Wilkes, Catawba, Cleveland, Onslow and Surry counties saw the largest increase in meth labs compared to 2011, said the NC DOJ.
Tennessee, with approximately 3 million fewer people than North Carolina, saw 1,808 meth labs in 2012, a 7 percent increase said the agency.
Wake County had only six lab investigations, although one of those resulted in an explosion in an upscale neighborhood in August. ::
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Article Posted: Friday, February 8th, 2013.