Meth Labs Setting Records

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Updated: 8/27/2013 6:10 P.M.

Attorney General Mike DeWine says law enforcement across Ohio have responded to a record number of calls on methamphetamine labs since last October, the beginning of the state's fiscal year, which ends September 30.

In the past 11 months, agencies have identified 770 meth labs.
For the entire fiscal year of 2012, the number was 670. And that was nearly double the total for all of 2011.

The Washington County sheriff's office says the number of meth lab calls through this month is four times the number for all of last year.
Most common are the so-called "shake and bake" labs, where chemicals can be mixed in soda or sports-drink bottles.

And they can be a hazard for more than just the users.

"There is a potential for those things exploding," says Sheriff Larry Mincks. "If it has not been properly off-gassed, there is a possibility someone could pick up one of those containers, and the thing could explode."

Sheriff Mincks says the containers also could be disposed in back yards, which can be hazardous to passers by, particularly children.
He says Washington County works with Wood County and West Virginia agencies in investigating the illegal labs.

Attorney General DeWine says the increase statewide is not only because of more labs, but because of aggressive law enforcement.

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"People are literally driving around the city of Parkersburg," says Police Sgt. Greg Collins, "cooking meth."

The latest such incident happened aturday at the intersection of 16th Street and St. Mary's Avenue, when police found what is known as a "shake and bake" meth lab after making a stop.

Taken into custody were two Parkersburg men, Jason Sams, 19, and Clinton Buffington, 35. They're just the latest of a number of people accused of making meth in places other than a home or enclosed building. and it can happen on any area street or highway.

"If you're traveling in Parkersburg in the middle of the day, say, on Murdoch Avenue," Collins says, "and you have a fire that takes place inside that vehicle, not only are the people who are cooking this meth in big trouble, they're creating a big hazard to other people on the roadway at that point. Other people can be hurt or killed because of what's taking place in that car."

It may come as a surprise to you as to how mobile a mobile meth lab can be. Police say something as small as a soda bottle can be used for the manufacture and storage of methanphetemene.

And Collins adds those portable labs are also a way of getting around recently-approved laws intended to limit the sale of items used in manufacturing meth.

"It helps them circumvent the pseudoephedrine law that's now in place. They only have a few pills now, where they were traveling numerous counties they need, or to have their friends buy for them."

Another problem, he says, is that suspects are disposing of the meth containers in places such as dumpsters where others can be exposed to the illegal chemical substances.

The meth is usually a white or brown substance.

The latest suspects were transported to the North Central Regional Jail.


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