Missouri sees increase in meth production

Despite the increase, Missouri lost its No. 1-ranking in meth production to Tennessee.
Liz Stratman / Graphic Designer

The prevalence of methamphetamine labs in Missouri has been steadily increasing since 2006. Although Missouri recently lost its spot as the number one producer of meth in the nation to Tennessee, the relatively high number of meth labs in the state continue to pose a problem for law enforcement agencies.

According to a Missouri State Highway Patrol news release, there were a total of 1,960 meth lab incident seizures in 2010, which marks a 53 percent increase from 2007.

According to highway patrol Capt. Tim Hull, the agrarian nature of Missouri can account for the high numbers of meth production.

“Missouri is a very rural state,” Hull said. “It is very enticing to those producing meth because the chances of being discovered are much less than in cities and other populated areas.”

According to the news release, after anti-meth lab legislation enacted in 2006, the amount of meth incidences in the state decreased, but those numbers began steadily increasing from 2007.

Major Tom Reddin said legislation preventing the production of meth works for a short time, but in the long run producers find a way around it.

“Legislation keeps attempting to regulate and restrain the precursor elements that go into the production of meth and that is a helpful tool, unfortunately those who produce meth are creative and find successful ways to access the precursors,” Reddin said.

Columbia Police Department Detective Ron Hall said the legislation made it more difficult to purchase cold medication that contains pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient in meth.

Hall said one of the ways to combat meth production is to urge pharmacists to report any suspicious activity.

“We’re working closely with the pharmacies here in town for suspicious purchase reports,” Hall said. “The pharmacy monitors cold medication purchases, like if a group is buying medication or if it’s a frequent customer and alerts us.”

Meth possession or labs are usually discovered due to unrelated law violations. Michael Tinker, arrested Friday, was pulled over for a traffic violation and was then found to be in possession of the drug, a sheriff’s department news release stated.

Meth labs have also been discovered from tips made to the police by citizens.

“Tips have given us leads to go forward in a proactive manner and make contact with these individuals exhibiting suspicious behavior,” Hall said.

Meth labs have been discovered in Columbia, but Reddin says it is not as prevalent here as in other parts of Missouri.

“It’s more likely to find meth lab remnants out in the country, but it does happen in the city,” Reddin said. “It can be produced in the back of a van or a hotel room or somebody’s basement.”

According to Hull, meth labs have the potential to be dangerous to those living near them.

“The fumes are very toxic, and the items used to manufacture it are very volatile,” Hull said. “Meth labs can cause explosions, burns and fires.”

Hull also said stopping the production of meth in Missouri would benefit everyone because the production of meth can harm many people.

“The by-products are usually dumped into the ground or in sewer systems, so a lot of people can be affected even if you don’t come into direct contact with the substance,” Hull said.

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