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Number of Meth Labs Decreasing in North Carolina

New numbers from the SBI show a significant drop in illegal meth labs. But some areas, like Johnston County, are still fighting an uphill battle on stopping the drug from being manufactured.

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JOHNSTON — New numbers from the State Bureau of Investigation show a significant drop in illegal methamphetamine labs in North Carolina since 2005.

“We've seen a significant drop, and it's good for the safety of the people of the state,” State Attorney General Roy Cooper said.

The attorney general credits changes in state law, like moving medicines with pseudoephedrine behind the counter.

"Making it harder for the criminal to get the necessary key ingredient to make meth has been the main factor in the reduction of meth labs,” he said.

Statewide, the number of meth labs was cut in half from 2005 to 2007, but three of the four counties with the most meth labs are in the Triangle area.

Authorities have struggled to get a handle on meth labs in Johnston County. In September, sheriff's deputies raided a home and arrested four people. Three weeks before, Benson's police chief was exposed to toxic fumes after finding a mobile meth lab.

The high number for the county “was disappointing, but I think a lot of it has to do with [our being] so proactive” and finding and reporting labs, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.

Bizzell points to ongoing campaigns like "Operation Pill Crusher." It has results in 72 arrest warrants and shut down three labs since October. He said deputies are also seeing more meth on the streets, coming in from other countries.

“The illegal immigration is tied directly to the meth,” Bizzell said. “Meth has followed the moonshine route, Interstate 40 and Interstate 95."

In the year ahead, Cooper said, the state will focus on more community meth awareness, distributing education materials and helping addicts through treatment programs.

“We cannot rest on our laurels, because there is still a lot of work to do,” Cooper said.

The law passed in 2005 also required mandatory prison time for those convicted of manufacturing meth.

Johnston County authorities said they have staggered some recent arrests to keep from overloading their jail.



Mike Charbonneau, Reporter
Minnie Bridgers, Web Editor

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