Lawton_Lawton Police say they are on pace to bust more methamphetamine labs this year than last. And, it's not necessarily because there are more labs, but because police say they are discovering where the labs are located due to tips from public. The number of addicts entering rehab also has climbed. In the first quarter of 2009, Lawton Police busted 11 meth labs, and made 13 meth-related arrests, which comes to more than 1/3 of the figures tallied during all of last year.
Police say that in the latest bust - March 20 in south Lawton - came as a result of a neighbor reported smelling something suspicious and called police. Police say such calls are becoming more frequent. "I think it's definitely because of the media - information put out through 'Crystal Darkness,'" said Lawton Police Detective David Schucker. "Crystal Darkness" was a documentary about meth abused aired by 7News in January. "People have become more aware of methamphetamine, and the dangers of methamphetamine - what to look for."
Lately, police say they have busted a higher volume of smaller labs. A 2004 law made it possible to track pseudoephedrine purchases to curb massive meth manufacturing, but a recent trend among makers - and users - attempts to skirt the law. "The users are actually bringing pseudoephedrine to the cooks," said Schucker. "So, when they come to buy, they bring money and pseudoephedrine. In this way the cook can collect more pseudoephedrine without showing up on law enforcement radar." The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is working to put an end to that by putting the reporting system online, in real time, so they will be able to see who's buying Sudafed immediately.
As law enforcement cuts down on the meth supply, rehab centers are combating meth demand. After the broadcast of "Crystal Darkness", Lawton rehab center Roadback, Inc. says it saw a large increase in folks seeking help. Now, there is a six-week wait list in the women's treatment center. "We're really proud of the fact that people are more aware of how harmful any of the addictions are - particularly meth - and that they want to make a difference in their lives," said Roadback, Inc. Clinic Director Christina Erman.
There may be a waitlist, but Roadback says that shouldn't stop anyone from getting help through support meetings, counseling, and detox. "You can be in some sort of treatment before getting to a residential treatment clinic," said Erman. "So there's no reason why someone can't get involved in making their lives better today."
In the 11 Lawton meth lab busts this year, police say they seized about $1,000 worth of meth - an enormous drop compared to the $284,000 worth confiscated in 2002.