The presence of meth labs in Oklahoma has increased over the past few years, according to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. In fact, 900 meth lab seizures have occurred throughout the state this year alone.
Aside from the dangerous nature of the these labs, OBN said the increase has put a huge financial and time-consuming burden on law enforcement. In response to these issues, OBN has installed five meth lab disposal containers around the state.
"When local law enforcement officers seize a meth lab, they often wait several hours for a disposal crew to arrive at the site to haul off the materials," said Mark Woodward, OBN Spokesperson. "These meth lab containers will allow those police officers to drop-off the materials and return to work, rather than spending hours waiting on a truck."
Woodward said it also costs the state hundreds or even thousands of dollars each time a disposal crew is dispatched to a meth lab site. Now, disposal crews will pick up the materials from the meth containers every few weeks when a container is full.
According to the OBN, meth lab seizures dropped significantly between 2004 and 2008 when Oklahoma placed meth's key ingredient, Pseudoephedrine, in pharmacies. However, a new recipe which uses smaller quantities of Pseudoephedrine is allowing meth cooks to get around existing state law. As a result, meth lab seizures have climbed from 148 in 2007 to as high as 818 in 2010. OBN Director R. Darrell Weaver said the meth lab container program is a win-win for the state.
"Meth labs have a horrible collateral effect and are a scourge to our state," said Weaver. "We are pleased to minimize the cost of meth lab disposal by implementing a model program which utilizes secure containers strategically located around the state. This program will save in overall disposal costs by stream lining the process and making it more efficient. The new protocol will also save law enforcement officer man hours by not having to wait on disposal crews on scene."
The five meth lab disposal containers are located in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, McAlester, Ponca City and Duncan. OBN hopes to place more containers around the state as funding becomes available.
OBN is also working with state lawmakers on legislative initiatives designed to reduce and eliminate meth labs.