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Statistics show that meth use in Springfield is on the rise. While police say the trend of meth is spreading to the surrounding counties away from town, meth users are finding new ways to cook the devastating stimulant. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe reports.
A simple Google search will lead you to a map of meth busts in Springfield this year and in years past. The numbers speak for themsleves: 96 labs were busted within Springfield city limits this year., That's a big jump from 67 last year and 37 in 2009. Corporal Matt Brown of the Springfield Police Department says meth cooks are now using mobile labs...in other words, they're carrying around the ingredients of a meth lab in backpacks.
“So you’ve gone from the bigger, harder to put together labs that require an entire basement or an entire mobile home or sections of the woods--now, they’re breaking it down into individual components and compartmentalizing it,” Brown said.
Brown says times have changed from when an officer could simply drive down the street, follow his or her nose to the source of the strong smell of anhydrous ammonia, obtain a search warrant, and make an arrest. He says because of these mobile meth labs, it’s becoming harder for police to catch the bad guys.
“They’ve gotten smarter in breaking it up, and it in effect, [it] makes it a little more difficult for them to produce it because instead of going through step A to Z all in one segment in their basement, they have to do it in pieces. But now those pieces are harder for us to find. And that’s why it’s a little more difficult for us to catch them. It’s a little harder for them to make, but they’re not getting caught as often,” Brown said.
So why is Missouri, particularly the southwest portion, so notorious across the nation for production and use of this highly addictive drug? Brown speculates that it might have all started here with one local university student who came across the meth formula while doing research.
“There’s nothing else that really points to any real reason why Springfield, Missouri or Greene County should be number one. It has nothing to do with being in the Ozarks or hillbillies, which is what other states, especially when you look at the coasts, what they believe. It doesn’t have anything to do with that. I think it’s the origination of one person who came across the formula,” Brown said.
You can find a link to the map with meth labs in Springfield on our website. For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.