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Letter to the Editor: Meth lab seizures

Monday, December 20, 2010

While it is true that Missouri has been the leader of methamphetamine lab seizures for several years, it must be stated that Missouri is far from the "meth capital of the world" as many media outlets have headlined for dramatic effect. In fact, rather than wanting to lose the distinction of being the U.S. leader in meth lab seizures (as indicated in the Dec. 16, Southeast Missourian editorial titled Stopping Meth), this information should give residents an indication of the commitment among law enforcement and community drug prevention professionals to reducing meth-related problems.

The Drug Enforcement Administration tracks the number of methamphetamine lab incidents across the U.S. which includes lab, dumpsite and/or chemical and glassware seizures. However, just examining the number of incidents is deceiving. The DEA reported there were 1,471 methamphetamine lab incidents in Missouri during 2008 yielding a total of 14.1 kilograms of methamphetamine seized by federal agents. In comparison, while the neighboring state of Arkansas recorded roughly a quarter of the total lab incidents as in Missouri (319), federal agents seized twice the amount of the drug (28.2 kilograms). This discrepancy is highlighted even more when examining states like California (346 lab incidents; 2,232 kg seized) and Texas (112 lab incidents; 783.6 kg seized) which deal with larger problems related to super-labs.

Media members should not rely on lab incidents as the key statistic for reporting methamphetamine problems; rather it is one of the many indicators of how Missouri is addressing this critical public health issue.

DR. RONALD WILLIAMS, Mississippi State, MS