Kentucky state troopers crack down on record number of meth labs

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

(FOX19)  - Kentucky State Police said last year they discovered a record number of methamphetamine (meth) labs in the Commonwealth. In 2009, state troopers busted 716 meth labs. The last record was set back in 2004 when 600 labs were discovered.

Troopers said one major problem is how easy it is to make the drug at home. Police said the key ingredient is pseudoephedrine or PSE tablets. It's commonly known as Sudafed. You can purchase it at any local drug store. In 2005, a Kentucky law attempted to crack down on the problem. Lawmakers implemented a "pharmacy log" statute. The law required that the PSE tablets could only be purchased at pharmacy counters. The statute had an immediate effect on substantially reducing meth labs until 2008. To further reduce meth lab production, Kentucky lawmakers required the pharmacy logs to be reported on a centralized database designated by the state government. The computerized system is known as Meth Check.

Despite those efforts, the state's meth problem continues to rise. Another issue is the availability of products used in production. Instead of big elaborate labs, troopers said meth cooks are using two liter soda bottles and everyday household ingredients to make the drug. Two components that add up to one big problem that often leads to the emergency room.

"You don't need to smuggle this across the border," said Dr. Daniel Brunner. "It can be made in your neighbor's house with harmful chemicals so it's readily available, easily made in your household and easily distributed on the streets."

Brunner works in the emergency room at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Covington. Brunner said he's treated several meth addicts and has witnessed firsthand the devastation the drug can cause; Not just for addicts, but for their families.

"You'll see patients come in when they have a house fire or the chemicals burn and injure a family or children," said Brunner.

In the last four years, Kentucky State Police said they've removed more than 350 children from meth lab locations.

Troopers said they spent more than $1.3 million dollars last year to crack down on meth labs.

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