Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Meth makers, using new methods, are on the rise

The latest evidence that methamphetamine is making a comeback comes from Indiana, where police found a third more meth labs last year than in 2007, some of them as small as soft-drink bottles, reports Angela Mapes Turner of The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne.

"The state police’s Fort Wayne district found the most labs in the state, more than double the previous year’s total," Turner writes, in a comprehensive story that is a good example of how to localize state statistics. "Noble County – historically one of the most active counties for meth production – led the state with 80 labs discovered."

Meth makers, constrained by laws and precautions limiting their access to ingredients, and increasing awareness of what meth labs smell like, have discovered a new way to make it, often in 2-liter drink bottles. The "one pot" or "shake and bake" method "produces less of the drug and doesn’t create as many noxious fumes as a typical meth lab," Turner reports. "The new production method is different but still dangerous. Vapors must be let out of the bottles or they can explode, and the chemicals can cause burns." (Read more)

UPDATE, Feb. 5: A study finds meth cost the nation $23.4 billion in 2005 and may have "an economic toll nearly as great as heroin and possibly more," Erik Eckholm reports for The New York Times. "Federal surveys suggest that the share of Americans using the drug in a given year has stabilized, at about 1 percent of the population over age 12, which is far higher than the rate for heroin but half the rate for cocaine." (Read more)

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