Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
Kentucky Meth Labs Soar In 2009
Date of Photo Release: 01/21/2010
(Frankfort, Ky.) -- Kentucky State Police (KSP) released the 2009 methamphetamine lab statistics today and the numbers are soaring. KSP reports that there were 716 meth labs in the Commonwealth last year which is an all time high for the state, increasing sixty percent over the 2008 totals.
The last record was set in 2004, when 600 labs were discovered. The production of meth in Kentucky dropped after a 2005 law went into effect requiring that purchases of pseudoephedrine (PSE) tablets be made at pharmacy counters. This 'pharmacy log' statute (KRS 218A.1446) had an immediate effect by substantially reducing meth labs in the state by fifty percent over a three-year period.
Major Joseph Williams, Commander for the KSP Special Enforcement Troop, contributes meth's popularity to the relatively easy cooking process, the highly addictive nature of the drug and the ease of obtaining pseudoephedrine.
"With a small investment consisting of supplies bought from neighborhood stores, dealers can easily cook up hundreds of dollars worth of a drug so addictive, that users quickly descend into an abyss of violence and crime to get to their next high," said Williams.
"This frightening scenario is the reality of methamphetamine, a dangerous drug that is sweeping Kentucky, spawning crime and ripping apart local communities – not to mention the huge financial burden it yields," he added.
The total cost to KSP last year to remove the 716 reported meth labs totaled $1,373,825.00. These costs include the discovery of labs, certified lab responder salaries, removal and transportation of waste from the scene and hazardous waste disposal fees. This does not include costs to social service organizations, remediation, incarceration or medical expenses incurred.
As the drug's popularity grows in the state, so does its far-ranging, devastating effects: jails are packed with inmates who need health care, children are being permanently removed from their parents, addicts face the challenge of trying to kick a powerfully addictive stimulant and law enforcement agencies struggle for resources to battle the growing number of labs.
On June 1, 2008, in an effort to further reduce meth lab production, a new Kentucky statute required the pharmacy logs to be reported on a centralized database designated by state government. This computerized system utilizes an electronic PSE monitoring system known as Meth Check. In spite of the new Meth Check system the state's 2008 meth lab total rose forty-one percent.
One notion that may be partially to blame for the spike in labs is the development of a quicker, more efficient method for producing meth, called the "one-pot" or "shake-and-bake" method. This method leads to a great deal of pressure inside the container and can easily cause an explosion. The mixture of toxic ingredients in this process results in a chemical reaction which changes the pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine.
Trend analysis in Kentucky and other states show that meth labs are moving into urban areas because of the ease of the one-step method.
In 2009, 240 meth labs were found in structures that are classified as multifamily dwellings, which include apartment complexes, hotels and motels. Seventy-four meth labs were found in vehicles and over 148 labs were found in locations within one-thousand yards of a school.
"These are a big problem because the innocent individuals also living within these structures may not know that the production of meth is taking place," Williams said.
Williams indicated that law enforcement are finding larger yielding meth labs out in the more rural areas of the state.
"Smaller scale labs within city limits are escalating while a reduced number of rural labs are increasing their output. It's a lose-lose situation."
Children are not immune from the far reaching effects of meth. Over the past four years, authorities in Kentucky have removed more than 350 children from meth lab locations. The children found in these labs are defenseless against the deadly actions of parents who cook meth.
Methamphetamine is not just a Kentucky problem. Occurrences of meth labs have been on the rise across the country and states are scrambling to find solutions. According to the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), Kentucky ranks number three nationally for the number of meth labs discovered in 2009. Missouri ranked number one with 1,537 labs followed by Indiana with 1,096.
The state of Oregon has made PSE available by prescription only. Since that time, meth lab incidents have gone from over 400 per year (prior to the prescription only law) to averaging fewer than 20 a year.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has committed to proposing legislation to take the Oregon Anti-meth Legislation nationwide, requiring all states to comply with a PSE prescription only process.
In Missouri, several towns and counties have also made PSE available through the prescription only process, with positive results.
Williams said that the goal of the agency is to remain vigilant in preventing future occurrences of meth labs and raising public awareness about their dangers.
"Meth labs are devastating our state financially, placing our officers in harms way, contaminating our environment, destroying families and robbing us of our greatest asset – our children," added Williams.
KSP advises that if you suspect someone is making meth or you encounter a meth lab, call 1-800 DOPETIP (1-800-367-3847). Callers can remain anonymous.