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Clark, Floyd counties see big drop in meth labs over 5 years

2.6.18, Aprile Rickert, News and Tribune

SOUTHERN INDIANA — A recent Indiana State Police report shows a continual drop in meth labs seized statewide in the last five years, and local counties are in line with those numbers.

In 2013, there were 1,808 labs seized across the state, dropping to 1,452 in 2015, 943 in 2016 and 371 statewide in 2017.

Clark and Floyd counties trended along the same line, with 31 and 30, respectively, in 2013 down to zero in Clark County in 2017 and one in Floyd County.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin said the drop is due in part to more public education and awareness of labs and more focus from law enforcement. But part of it, he said, could be attributed to more people using heroin instead and more meth coming in from across the Southern border of the United States.

“There’s going to be people using methamphetamine, if they can use it,” Goodin said. “For some, it’s just the drug of choice and unfortunately now a lot of it is coming in through Central and South America.

“It’s coming in such mass quantities that they’re able to sell it on the street so cheap that in a lot of cases, it’s not really worth the effort for somebody to try to make meth.”

He said fewer meth labs are a positive for the community. It reduces the risk for fire and for the drug to affect those in neighborhoods where it’s being manufactured.

It’s also lowered the cost of cleanup, Goodin said. Some of the smallest meth labs, which could be nothing more than a soda bottle with chemicals added to react until the methamphetamine is produced, can cost up to $5,000 to professionally clean the area where they have been used.

Part of the rise in individuals manufacturing their own meth in the last decade came after police began targeting dealers, Goodin said. When people began making their own on a smaller scale to use or distribute, law enforcement educated the public about what to look for — the smell of sulfur, large quantities of ephedrine packets, containers of starter fluid — and investigated those tips.

New state laws required businesses and pharmacies to put controls on selling pseudoephedrine in large quantities or without identification.

Goodin said law enforcement has had to shift how it tackles the meth issue.

“We’ve gotten pretty good at locating meth labs and educating the public on that, now it goes back to [dealers] transporting it in,” he said.

The focus now is to stop drug trafficking at the source through “Operation Total Eclipse,” an ISP initiative rolled out in 2017 to target dealers.

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