What are meth labs costing us?

Posted: 28th August 2012 by Doc in Uncategorized
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Conservative estimates by Kentucky State Police show that the minimum cost to taxpayers for the clean-up of a small, one-step methamphetamine lab is $5,000.

In 2011, KSP found 163 labs in the eastern part of the state. With just over four months left in 2012, they have found 147.

The cost doesn’t include clean-up costs to the homeowner of rental property, health department inspection time, the cost of storing the toxic residual material, incarceration of the manufacturer or if children are involved, health testing and possible state guardianship.

“We spend about five to 10 hours on the clean-up alone,” said Sgt. Rob Conn, a 17-year KSP veteran and current DESI (Dug Enforcement Special Investigation) officer. “That is five to 10 hours spent away from the other duties DESI is responsible for.”

Conn said even after 17 years in the field, his eyes have been opened farther since coming to DESI.

“The meth addiction is frightening and the toxins that manufacturers and users are exposing themselves to are unthinkable,” he said.

“It only takes one hit to become addicted,” said Conn. “We don’t even know what longterm exposure can really do to them or to us.”

Depending on which “recipe” the cook uses, things such as lithium batteries, drain cleaner, muriatic acid, red phosphorous, iodine, paint thinner, camp stove fuel and acetone may be used to mix with pseudoephedrine(PSE).

“Alone, some of these chemicals can kill if ingested. Imagine what mixing and heating them does to a person and the environment,” said Conn.

KSP estimates that for every pound of meth produced, there are nearly five pounds of residual chemicals to dispose of.

“We store the residual toxins in special buckets in a fallout shelter for hazmat pick-up,” Conn said.

Kentucky began using a computerized tracking system called MethCheck in 2008.

“The system tracks all PSE sales within the state,” said Conn. “With a photo ID, consumers can purchase 9 grams of PSE a month, but only 2.9 grams can be purchased per day.”

Those 9 grams equals roughly six -24 dose boxes.

“The MethCheck system is a good investigative tool,” Conn said. “But it does not stop the buying.”

“Cooks get their buddies to do what we call “smurfing”. Each one of them will purchase their 2.9 grams to donate to the meth manufacturing process.”

“Senate Bill 45, which would have required a prescription for pseudoephedrine, did not pass in 2011,” said Conn. “There are many states that have passed the bill and it has made a huge impact in reducing the number of meth labs found in those states.”

“In 2004 before Oregon’s House Bill 2485 passage, nearly 3,000 labs were located over a three year period. That number fell to 10 the following three years after pseudoephedrine could only be purchased with a prescription.”

“There are over 150 alternative allergy medications available that do not contain PSE,” said Conn. “Passing this bill in Kentucky will not stop the sale of meth, but it can stop the impact of if being manufactured here.”







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