JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) – NewsChannel 5 is giving you an inside look at what gives Missouri a dubious title year after year. It’s not one to be proud of: methamphetamine capital of the United States. And one county in particular stands out.
“We’re boots on the ground. We’re the people actually out here combating it, fighting it,” said Corporal Chris Hoffman, head of the Jefferson County Drug Task Force.
They never know what the day will bring but it all starts like this.
“We have some very new intel information,” Hoffman told the task force.
The head of the task force calls a briefing to discuss the busy day ahead.
“The weatherman at Channel 5 says it’s gonna be about 97degrees today.”
No matter the heat, safety comes first. Hoffman and his team of undercover officers are trying to put a dent in a growing problem. Last year, the Show Me State led the country in meth busts. And it was a record year in Jefferson County.
“That’s why we get the moniker of the ‘Meth Lab Capital of the World’ is because we do actively combat it,” Hoffman said. “We are very proactive, as far as going out and hunting these people down.”
And today, just like every day, they’re hitting the road to clean up the streets.
After two unsuccessful stops, it’s on to the third. This time, someone answers the door of an Imperial home, and bingo.
“The smell is so bad in the house that we had to extract everybody from the house,” Hoffman said. “And then myself and two other detectives are going to have to put APR masks on so we can go in safely and remove it and process the lab.”
Investigators say they find meth lab materials in the home, in a vehicle, and in the woods out back. Four people are arrested, including one man who could not stop twitching.
“It’s just all the tell tale signs of a tweaker, of a hardcore meth addict,” Hoffman said.
Officers say they found the drug-making materials within reach of children.
“Four children had been staying there over the past week. Any child located in a home where a meth lab is discovered is against the law, obviously. So DFS was contacted,” said Hoffman.
This is the hardest part of the job.
“It upsets me. There’s other words I want to use because I’m a dad. It upsets me,” he said.
As for the four people who were arrested at the meth bust in Imperial, they were all released within 24 hours after the bust. It’s common for charges in these cases to take months. Lab reports are the hold up.
The drug task force often arrests the same person more than once while they’re awaiting charges for the first meth lab.
We’ll have more on the meth war in Jefferson County Wednesday on Today in St. Louis, including how a proposed change in state law could make a big difference in the fight against meth.