May 6, 2005 – Posted at 3:16 p.m. CDT
CARUTHERSVILLE, MO -- Missouri has been battling its methamphetamine problem for years, and the worst of it has been in Region 8's back yard.
Rural Southeast Missouri has been a hotbed of activity, but local law enforcement has been working with politicians trying to change that.
U.S. Senator Kit Bond was in Region 8 Friday to discuss the ongoing effort with the Missouri Sheriff's Methamphetamine Relief Team.
“Missouri has the unfortunate distinction of being probably the meth capital of the nation,” said Senator Bond.
But it's a reputation the Show Me State is fighting.
“I've brought $13 million dollars in federal funds and enabled the task force, such as the outstanding task force here in Southeast Missouri to get the equipment and to hire additional officers to work solely on meth,” said Senator Bond.
The Missouri Sheriff's Methamphetamine Relief Team --or MOSMART--has been working to crack down on the drug problem in the Bootheel. Since January of 2001, MOSMART has seized more than 100 meth labs in Dunklin and Pemiscot County and they've made almost 500 arrests on meth related charges.
“If you didn't have the task force and you didn't have the MOSMART program, these rural sheriff's departments, such as ours, you would have no drug enforcement,” said Pemiscot County Sheriff Tommy Greenwell, “Because our limited budget, our limited staff, we're lucky to answer the calls for service that we have, much less dedicating it to the meth problem.”
The meth problem began in California and information on how to make it spread over the Internet.
“It exploded and law enforcement didn't really understand what we were dealing with until it was an epidemic,” said Sheriff Greenwell.
“This has spread from rural Missouri to our cities to other states and we've unfortunately have seen a tremendous impact,” said Senator Bond.