Anderson Co. number one in state for meth lab seizures

Anderson Co. has the highest number of meth lab seizures in state

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Officials are trying to cut down on the supply of pseudoephedrine, a component of meth. Officials are trying to cut down on the supply of pseudoephedrine, a component of meth.
"I would think the solution would be harsher penalties for people who attempt to make meth, who are in possession of meth," said Assistant Chief Vaughn Becker. "I would think the solution would be harsher penalties for people who attempt to make meth, who are in possession of meth," said Assistant Chief Vaughn Becker.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

CLINTON (WATE) - So far this year, more than 1,000 meth labs have been seized in Tennessee.

According to the director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine & Pharmaceutical Task Force, the state is on track to have the highest number of meth labs seized in the country.

According to a recent meth task force report, the county with the most labs seized this year is in East Tennessee. Anderson County has the most this year with 46 seizures.

Tennessee has been in the top three for meth lab seizures for the past seven years. He says law enforcement agencies have been aggressive, but the number is also increasing because more people continue to make and use the drug.

Assistant Chief Vaughn Becker with the Clinton Police Department in Anderson County joined the Tennessee Meth Task Force in 2006. He saw the number of meth labs spike in early 2000 and continue to increase ever since.

"I think those high numbers have a lot to do with us doing a better job in seizing them and finding them and locating them," said Becker.

Tennessee Methamphetamine & Pharmaceutical Task Force Director Tom Farmer says only 10% of the labs out there are seized.

The reason for the increase, he says, is the drug is cheap at around $20 a dose and highly addictive. One use can get a person hooked, but to get the high people risk their life.

"They were never designed to be ingested in any shape form or fashion, so, yes, the use is going to kill you as well as the manufacturing is going to kill you," said Farmer.

Instead of only cleaning up labs, Clinton police are trying to be proactive by reducing the amount of meth being made in the area.

Officers are trying to make arrests before the meth is manufactured and are tracking suspicious illegal purchases of the main component of meth - pseudoephedrine.

"Somebody coming from another county and passing many drugstores and coming to Clinton and in one pharmacy buying one box of pseudoephedrine then going to another pharmacy and buying another box is suspicious," said Becker.

Due to the efforts of the meth task force, the street value of pseudoephedrine is going up. A box costs around $10 from a pharmacy, but will sell for $50 dollars on the street.

Even though law enforcement officials are being aggressive, meth task force members agree more needs to be done to reduce the labs across the state.

"I would think the solution would be harsher penalties for people who attempt to make meth, who are in possession of meth," said Becker.

To reduce the number of meth labs in Tennessee, the task force wants to see additional restrictions on the access and sale of pseudoephedrine.

The last time Tennessee was number one in the country for the highest number of meth labs seized was 2010 when law enforcement found more than 2,000 meth labs.

The director says the state could see higher numbers than that this year.

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