Meth seizures boom across Mississippi; now tops, state says

Published 1:06 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics says seizures of methamphetamine so far this year have exceeded the number for this time last year.

MBN Director Marshall Fisher says methamphetamine is the largest growing threat and has prompted the agency to shift its focus.

Rankin County has seen the most meth seizures by MBN this year, and Sheriff Ronnie Pennington says he hopes the state’s new pseudoephedrine law helps curb the problem.

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Passed and signed into law in January, the law makes pseudoephedrine, an essential ingredient for meth that’s found in cold remedies, available by prescription only. It takes effect in July.

Meth-related arrests in Warren County this year are up slightly when compared to this point in 2009, with 20 recorded versus 18.

What has been found this year, however, have been more abandoned portable meth labs — recovered in such places as under a U.S. 61 bridge near Yokena and, most recently, a so-called “shake-and-bake” lab found Saturday in a backpack hanging from a tree on Campbell Swamp Road.

Sheriff Martin Pace said Warren County’s numbers probably have not increased significantly because it has had meth-certified investigators aggressively tracking the illegal activity for some time, but added that the abandoned labs are “incredibly dangerous” to the public.

“Shake and bake is by far the most prevalent method of manufacturing meth now and one reason is because it is disposable,” said Pace. “They can literally toss it out the window. Anybody walking along could pick up and open a container and end up with a lung-full of chemicals.”

City police also have not seen an increase in arrests but credit greater awareness of both officers and the public in identifying abandoned meth-related materials, said Lt. Bobby Stewart. “That has brought it more to light.”