Congrats Missouri, you’re no longer the nation’s meth-bust capital


Methamphetamine seizures. (Missouri State Highway Patrol)

Missouri last year lost the dubious distinction of being home to the most methamphetamine-related seizures in the nation.

The number of labs, dump sites, glassware and chemical seizures fell by a fourth from 2012 to 2013, according to statistics compiled by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and reproduced above. Indiana now leads the nation, followed by Tennessee. Missouri is now third, followed by Ohio and Illinois. Missouri was home to the most such incidents last year, with Tennessee reigning the year before. The map reflects data on methamphetamine seizures — labs, materials or dump sites — entered into the National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System.

The six states in New England were home to 51 such incidents. The largest numbers of seizures took place in most of the Midwest.

The drop in Missouri doesn’t necessarily mean the state is winning its war on meth, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported:

“It should not be any indication that the war on meth is dwindling,” said Cpl. Chris Hoffman, who leads the Jefferson County Municipal Enforcement Group, a drug task force.

Rather, the drop could be a result of a change in enforcement approach, new laws and a more powerful product being imported from Mexico.

Not surprisingly, meth busts tend to be higher in areas where officers are devoted to looking for the drug and labs, as has been the case in Jefferson County.

The number of meth seizures nationally dropped between 2004 and 2007 after the federal government and state governments worked together to limit sales of a key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, the Government Accountability Office reported in the summer. But busts began to rebound as new techniques emerged for smaller-scale production and with the rise in a practice known as “smurfing,” in which groups of individuals buy the maximum amount of the drug legally allowed and pool it together for larger-scale production.

In the year since it went into effect, a multistate pseudoephedrine registry helped block between 70,000 and 90,000 sales of the drug, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics told KOKH-TV. Oregon and Mississippi have made the drug prescription only, though the impact of such policies on legal uses is unclear, the GAO report found.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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