Meth Labs Seizure Down Nationwide, Up in Region 8

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- A new report out by the Drug Enforcement Agency says meth use is down across the United States as the government cracks down on precursor chemicals used to make the illegal drug.  But is the drug that has been such a huge problem in Region 8 finally going away?

Law enforcement in Region 8 has made the fight against meth a top priority, seizing labs and putting meth makers behind bars.  But keeping the ingredients out of the hands of cooks is also helping to slow the trade.

"It has been a good deterrent," said pharmacist Ken Gibson of Gibson Pharmacy, "Certainly there are still people who work the network but it's easier for them to get busted now."

A federal law restricting the amount of pseudoephedrine has meth cookers trying different tactics to get their hands on the ingredients and drug traffickers from Mexico infiltrating the market.

"The meth use is not down; the meth lab seizure is down," said an undercover Jonesboro Drug Task Force Agent, "The meth use has gone down due to several Mexican nationals and Mexican drug organizations bringing the drugs into our region."

We can't show you the faces of the Jonesboro Drug Task Force Agents who discovered this meth lab on Thursday off of Warren Street...but you can see how users make the drug right in the open, in a field where children often ride four-wheelers.

The DEA reports that nationwide, the number of meth lab seizures is down by 31% from last year but Jonesboro Police actually say they've seen an increase in lab seizures in the past few weeks, meaning that meth is still a serious problem here in Region 8.

"It could be a possibility that the people are getting their income taxes in and so therefore they have a little bit more money to go out and purchase the items they need to make meth," said the undercover agent.

Computer systems like "Meth Check" help pharmacists & law enforcement keep tabs on how many tablets of pseudoephedrine you can buy.

"Our store, we allow you to buy half of what the federal government says you can buy. We have some regulars and that way I know I'm well under the limits of the law and I'm not going to get in trouble by benefiting their habits," said Gibson.

Also, the number of workplace employees who tested positive for the drug dropped by 22% last year.