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Tennessee leads nation in meth lab crime

Associated Press / March 2, 2011

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ST. LOUIS — For the first time since 2003, a state other than Missouri is leading the nation in methamphetamine lab busts and seizures.

Tennessee had 2,082 meth lab incidents in 2010, the state’s meth task force director, Tom Farmer, said yesterday. That tops Missouri’s total of 1,960.

The Tennessee figure won’t be confirmed until summer. Barbara Carreno, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman, said numbers for national meth lab incidents won’t be released until July because many states have not yet tallied them.

Missouri saw a 10 percent increase in meth lab incidents over the 1,774 in 2009, but Tennessee’s numbers jumped 41 percent, Farmer said. Meth lab incidents also jumped by nearly 300 in Indiana, to 1,395 in 2010.

Most other states have not released 2010 figures, but Jason Grellner, former president of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association, said colleagues in neighboring states say they will report huge spikes, too.

Carreno said it is clear that the number of meth lab seizures and busts will rise sharply for the third straight year. Experts cite two reasons: the emergence of “shake-and-bake’’ meth and pill shoppers. In the shake-and-bake production method, also known as one-pot, meth is made quickly in a 2-liter soda bottle.

Over the past few years, governments have monitored and set limits on the sale of cold and sinus infection medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a vital meth component. In January, the Associated Press reported that an unintended consequence of those laws has been an increase in people being recruited to buy the pills.

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