It's been a record year in New York. Police have discovered 89 meth labs cooking. Eight of them were in Clinton County; the only county in the northeastern part of the state where labs have been found. All the other labs were south and west of Syracuse.
"I don't think it is isolated to this area," New York State Police Capt. Robert LaFountain said. "I think the other areas that have not had these detected; I still think it is occurring in that area. They just have not found it at this time."
The 89 meth labs are the most since 2003, when police busted 73 labs in the Empire State. Authorities say they can't pinpoint an exact reason for the spike, but say one factor may be the push to get bath salts off store shelves.
"So, I think they go hand in hand. When someone can't get one, they look for another. But why all of a sudden it jumps up in an area-- that can be any number of factors," said Special Agent James Burns of the DEA.
Breaking down meth labs can be costly, due to the chemicals used to make the highly addictive drug that produces a high for several hours. The average meth lab costs $3,500-$10,000 to clean up.
"It's a much different crime scene. We've got solvents, oxidizers, sodium hydroxide, acetone, ether; all of these chemicals are a hazard and danger to human life," N.Y. State Police Sgt. Dana Padauno said.
The Adirondack Drug Task Force has new computer software to help them find where some of these labs may be cooking. It gives them access to pharmaceutical records regarding the sale of medicines used to make meth. On this day alone, six names popped up with red flags in the system.
"We can go into this program and we can tell you who is now purchasing the precursors, if they met their legal limit, who has been turned down, addresses, phone numbers," Plattsburgh Police Chief Desmond Racicot said.
Prosecutors say preventing the meth labs from popping up is a difficult challenge. The process is relatively simple and includes common household ingredients. The push now is for stiffer penalties.
"We are going to start making a push with our state legislators about getting the sentences enhanced," Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said.
Right now, most people caught making meth only face up to 2 1/2 years in prison at most.
Now police also wanted to emphasize that they don't want the recent meth problem to overshadow the already existing drug problem, mainly prescription pills. Since 2010, nearly two dozen people in the tri-county region have died from overdoses-- most of them women-- and none of them were on meth.
Signs of a meth lab can include things like new people moving into a neighborhood with lots of equipment. Strange chemical odors and suspicious activity like people without cars buying gas or people who don't use nail polish purchasing nail polish remover.
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