The Edmond Sun

February 26, 2013

Oklahoma meth-related deaths increase dramatically

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

OKLA. CITY — Meth-related deaths in Oklahoma have risen from 27 in 2008 to more than 100 in 2011, a state official said.

For many states combating meth production and meth abuse continues to be an issue. The extent of the problem is illustrated by the fact that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration maintains a National Clandestine Laboratory Register (www.justice.gov).

At the website, visitors can click on a map and view a list of some addresses where law enforcement agencies reported they found chemicals or other items that indicated the presence of either a clandestine drug lab or dumpsite. The Department of Justice is not the source of the information but provides the site as a public service.

In central Oklahoma, addresses are in cities including Edmond, Arcadia, Guthrie, Luther, Oklahoma City, Bethany, El Reno, Mustang, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Choctaw, Del City, Harrah, Midwest City and Warr Acres.

Meth takes a toll on both property and human lives. In 2008, Oklahoma reported 27 meth-related deaths, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward said. In 2009, the number was 60. In 2010, it was 92. In 2011, most recent full year of statistics available, it was 104.

The deaths include meth cooks and innocent children, Woodward said.

Correspondingly, the number of meth lab seizures in the state has been rising, Woodward said. In 2008, 213 were seized. In 2009, the number was 743. In 2010, it was 818. In 2011, it was 909. In 2012, it was 824, he said.

It takes workers and time to clean up a meth site. Woodward said the federal government has grant money that is used to pay for meth lab disposal costs, so it does not cost the state any money. The average cost per lab is about $3,500, Woodward said. Last year, the federal government paid for disposal of the 824 labs.

In a July incident at Arcadia Lake, in addition to the local first responders who worked the scene, OBN personnel packed materials in several 5-gallon spill-proof buckets. They were at the scene for about an hour and a half.

In a previous report, Woodward said it was fortunate no small children were at the Arcadia Lake campsite.

To help reduce meth clean up costs, the OBN installed meth lab disposal containers in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, McAlester, Ponca City and Duncan in 2011.

This lets officers drop off materials and return to work instead of spending hours waiting on a truck.

In Oklahoma, combating meth abuse is an ongoing cat-and-mouse “game” between meth cooks and law enforcement, Woodward said. After Oklahoma laws lowered numbers of labs seized cooks began using  the “one pot” method, which uses smaller quantities of Pseudoephedrine.

Woodward said a key component in the fight against meth is continuing to educate the public about the consequences of meth abuse. Woodward’s duties include making presentations at various venues across the state.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108