Oklahoma's Meth Tradeoff

AUGUST 17, 2005 - Posted at 11:10 a.m. CDT

TULSA, OK - Arkansas' neighbor to the west, Oklahoma, reports a decline in methamphetamine lab seizures as much as 90 percent.    Arkansas' neighbor to the east, Tennessee, has enacted laws similar to Oklahoma's.    The new laws make it difficult for meth makers to get enough of the materials they need to "cook" the drug.

But it appears Mexican drug cartels are filling at least part of the void.   Oklahoma police report street seizures of smokable meth known as "crystal ice" rose nearly five-fold.

State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Control Director Lonnie Wright says the Mexican drug cartels traditionally focused on trafficking cocaine, heroin and marijuana.   But Wright says the cartels have added meth to their offerings, now that its production is largely shut down in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma became the first state to ban over-the-counter sales of cold tablets containing medications that can be converted into methamphetamine in makeshift labs.

Tennessee has since followed suit.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.   All Rights Reserved.)