Indiana #1 in 2013 Methamphetamine Lab Busts
More Needs to be done to Curb Manufacturing
The Hoosier state now has the dubious distinction of having the most meth labs busted in the country last year. Indiana beat Missouri this time around (it was first in 2012), but the Indiana Methamphetamine Investigation System is not sure if the amount of meth labs has grown, or if the state has gotten better at detection and seizure tactics.
The worst county is Vanderburgh, which busted 115 labs, according to Sgt. Niki Crawford, commander of Indiana State Policeâ€™s Meth Suppression Section, who also says the drug has been found in every county except one, according to an article on the TriState Homepage.
Indiana had 1,808 lab busts, followed by Tennessee with 1,616; Missouri with 1,496; Ohio with 1,010 and Illinois in the number five slot with a mere 673 – which is still too many, when one considers the toxicity of the materials used to make this drug and serious consequences addiction to it causes.
Efforts to identify problem areas are part of the task of the Methamphetamine Suppression Section, which began in June 2005 to address the growing problem after Senate Enrolled Act 444, which placed restrictions on the amount of pseudoephedrine products a person can purchase at one time. There is also the Meth Watch program and Indiana Drug Endangered Children (DEC) protocol. Officers are certified to process labs by attending a 40-hour training class that includes having and learning to use protective equipment, being subjected to medical monitoring and respiratory protection, and by completing 24 hours of on the job training, with eight hours of refreshment training each year. Officers also need to know how to process a scene and perform field testing in a safe manner in order to ensure prosecution of offenders.
But itâ€™s not enough. Those determined to circumvent the law practice â€œsmurfingâ€ – where several people are enlisted to each purchase an allowable amount of pseurdoephedrine, then pool it together to have enough to cook a batch. And batches can be â€˜cookedâ€™ in homes, in vehicles, out in the woods, and sometimes even in hotel rooms. The toxic remains can cause explosions and health issues for those who inhabit former residences once used to produce the drug.
The chemicals involved in making the drug are even more toxic than the drug itself, and they lend themselves to vaporization, meaning the sticky, resilient residue can permeate carpeting, drywall, and even a homeâ€™s insulation if several batches of meth were cooked in the same location. Simply cleaning and airing out a residence may not be enough. And thatâ€™s if youâ€™re lucky to still have a house. Sometimes the homes being used to cook meth catch on fire or explode with innocent people, including children, suffering the consequences. This is a drug that runs through families and tears people apart, both on the manufacturing end and the using end. Meth addicts have been known to exhibit aggression and commit violent acts while under the influence.
One attempt to thwart the cooking process is a newer decongestant, Nexafed, which still has the effective drug pseudoephedrine (PSE), but with a special technology that disrupts itâ€™s extraction, making it impossible to be used in making meth, so claims the manufacturer, Acura Pharmaceuticals. The inactive ingredients of the unique mix form a gel that has been shown to disrupt the extraction of the PSE. In large scale operations, according to the manufacturer, no PSE could be extracted, and in the smaller, direct conversion or â€œone-potâ€ method, cooks were only able to squeeze about half the amount of meth out of the product. The one-pot, or shakeâ€™nâ€™bake method uses only a small amount of PSE, and came about as a response by meth-makers to the added restrictions of the PSE. Still, if PSE can be extracted at all, the drug must carry the current restrictions of purchase.
Requiring a prescription to buy any product containing PSE has been generally shot down, except in two states. Some believe large Pharmaceutical companies donâ€™t necessarily support that effort, or products that claim to prevent PSE extraction, perhaps in an effort to maintain the large share of the market these companies hold. The National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) alerts retailers if someone is trying to purchase PSE illegally, and companies like Pfizer emphasize that their support of NPLEx is evidence of their commitment to prevent the diversion of PSE to meth, according to Jonah Engle in a blog for The Investigative Fund.
Drug Zephrex-D, made by Westport, also claimed to restrict the removal of PSE, but was proved ineffective by police who were able to extract the PSE using a known process.
So the scourge continues; the meth cooks continue and the wreckage that is part and parcel of this drugâ€™s addiction will keep on keeping on until PSE is replaced in cold medications with something equally effective, or until the availability of all ingredients used to make meth are made completely unavailable to those who misuse it.
B. Lenz, Intervention Services