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West Virginia Experiencing Dramatic Spike in Meth Labs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A major spike in meth busts is causing law enforcement to pour more time and resources into tracking them down and making arrests.

Brandon Lewis stays busy dealing with properties busted for meth. He’s the program coordinator for the Clandestine Drug Lab Remediation Program. Tuesday, he had to check out several properties just from this week.

“It's the ease of manufacturing now,” Lewis said.

What once took days now takes about an hour, and can be done just about anywhere.

“It's beyond me. I can't understand why anybody would want to take those types of chemicals and put them into their body,” West Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous said.

The problem isn't letting up, and the proof is in the numbers.

According to Lewis, 50 meth labs were reported in West Virginia in 2008. That number has gone up dramatically each year since, as the following show:

  • 2009: 109
  • 2010: 140
  • 2011: 171
  • 2012: 271

Just 22 days into 2013 and the number is already at 40. That means law enforcement officers are now averaging two meth busts a day.

In many cases, the lesson wasn't learned the first time around.

“I see a lot of names that I see today that I saw several years ago,” Lewis said. “They need more enforcement maybe to keep people behind bars longer.”

State law already requires pharmacies to limit the amount of pseudoephedrine each person can buy.

While some want tougher legislation, those who deal with meth every day disagree.

“If we had laws requiring a prescription for it, they would just go over to another state that doesn't have that,” Lewis said.

“Legislation can only go so far. This is a much deeper problem,” Baylous said. “The root of all of this involves morality.”


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