New Tactics Threaten Methamphetamine Progress

iowamethchartOver recent years, the Legislature and law enforcement have been remarkably successful in tackling the Methamphetamine problem in the state. Much of this has been attributed to limiting the purchases of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient.

In fact, this year the legislature ratcheted up restrictions on the purchase of pseudoephedrine by approving an electronic system to track purchases of the cold medicine. This will help prevent so called “smurfing” or driving from store to store to purchase small amounts of pseudoephedrine.

The results of recent efforts are clear. In 2004, law enforcement officials reported a high of 1,500 clandestine methamphetamine laboratories. By 2007, that number dropped to 178 laboratories, an 88% decrease in labs. But this progress is threatened by a new and easy manufacturing process.

Law enforcement officials are reporting seeing the first signs of what is known as the “shake & bake” method of manufacturing in the State. This new method of manufacturing methamphetamine does two things that make it very hard for law enforcement to find manufacturers.

…the drug can be made in something as simple and small as a 2-liter bottle.

Gone are the large and elaborate labs that required space and equipment. Instead, the drug can be made in something as simple and small as a 2-liter bottle. Additionally, the new process requires far smaller amounts of pseudoephedrine. This means that even the strictest regulations on pseudoephedrine are inadequate to counter the manufacture of methamphetamine.

While making methamphetamine has been reduced to simply shaking some ingredients in a 2-liter bottle, the danger presented by making meth has not been eliminated. Those making meth using the new method still risk both fires and explosions if not done just right. The “shake and bake” process also produces a toxic sludge that remains in the bottle afterwards. These toxic materials are likely to end up in areas like road ditches that present a real threat to both the public and the environment.

This new process is so easy, that it is prompting fears that many users will start to make the drug themselves. Such an easy and hard to track manufacturing process may present a real threat to recent success in combating the methamphetamine problem in our State. Expect this issue to be on the radar for public safety officials in the next year.