INDIANAPOLIS - The number of methamphetamine lab seizures in Indiana has increased in each of the last seven years, hitting a record high in 2013, and 2014 could be close to another record.
The RTV6 digital team's analysis of data made available by Indiana State Police showed three years of decreasing meth lab seizures from 2004-2006, with the number of meth labs discovered more than doubling between 2006 and 2013.
In 2006, there were 803 meth labs seized in Indiana, ISP said. By 2013, 1,808 labs were found. ISP began a mass suppression effort in 2006, and that's part of the reason for the increase.
"It really has a lot to do with enforcement efforts, because if you're not looking, you're not going to find," said ISP 1st Sgt. Niki Crawford. "There's a lot of officers out there being very proactive in their communities."
Crawford said the ease of obtaining supplies to manufacture methamphetamine and cooking methods have changed in recent years, too.
"With the changes we've seen in the cook process, it's become more dangerous," she said. "We're seeing more injuries. If you look at the injuries that have occurred from 2000 through the end of 2013, about 60 to 65 percent of all injuries have occurred in just the last four years. We really attribute that to the one-pot labs and the fact they're mixing incompatible chemicals inside one container."
A county-by-county breakdown showed that between 2001 and 2013, Bartholomew County had the highest number of meth lab seizures, with 635 in that 13-year period.
Other hotspots for meth lab activity included Jennings, Decatur, Vigo, Knox and Vanderburgh counties in the southern half of the state.
Noble, Elkhart and Marshall counties had a higher prevalence of meth lab seizures in northern Indiana during that same 13-year timeframe.
The trend so far in 2014 indicates a slight decrease in meth lab seizures.
"We're not down anywhere where we can start celebrating a big change," Crawford said. "It's not really sustained."
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