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Meth lab seizures up in Roane despite new laws

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By Damon Lawrence

Roane County experienced a 100-percent increase in meth lab seizures last year.

The total for 2012 was 24, according to statistics provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
In 2011, there was 12.  

The number of seizures also increased statewide. Last year’s total was 1,811, up from 1,689 in 2011.

This year isn’t shaping up to be better. Several labs were discovered in Roane County last month.

The statistics bear out what a recent Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury report concluded — state laws passed in recent years haven’t been much help in stopping meth production in Tennessee.

“According to the report, called ‘Methamphetamine Production in Tennessee,’ activity in small labs is prevalent in Tennessee and some other Southern and Midwestern states despite the implementation of pharmacy precursor sales limitations and enhanced electronic tracking systems,” the comptroller’s office said. “Law enforcement officials in Tennessee and nationally attribute the increase in methamphetamine lab incidents to the ability of producers to work around precursor control policies.”

The electronic tracking system known as the National Precursor Log Exchange was described as a failure by District Attorney General Russell Johnson.

“When you look at the comptroller’s study, it shows NPLEx has had little or no effect on the problem in Tennessee,” Johnson said.

State Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, a co-sponsor of the I Hate Meth Act that mandated the use of NPLEx, said he had not read the comptroller’s report.    

“I do have a copy to read this session,” he said by email.

Meth lab seizures
in Roane County
2005: 22
2006: 17
2007: 7
2008: 16
2009: 23
2010: 21
2011: 12
2012: 24
Source: Tennessee
Bureau of Investigation