Coast law enforcers see dramatic decline in meth busts

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - By Patrice Clark – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – Meth busts are down 90 percent in Jackson County, and nearly an identical percentage in Harrison County. Officials say the reason for the decrease is simple: Mississippi's law that prevents the over the counter sale of pseudoephedrine is working.

At the start of 2010, Jackson County drug agents busted meth cookers, and confiscated meth labs virtually every day.

"We were seeing them in the back of cars, out in rural areas and we had children in the next room. We had them in mobile homes and we had them in campers," Byrd said.

County records indicate narcotics officers made 210 meth arrests and discovered 121 labs in first six months of 2010.

"Just the mixing of the chemicals can cause violent explosions to where we had people die from the explosions."

On July first, meth suddenly became yesterday's news.

"We have had a dramatic decrease."

Law enforcers said restrictions on the availability of pseudoephedrine pills are contributing to the decrease. A new state law passed in July says you just can't walk into a store and buy them without a doctor's prescription.

"It is the one ingredient that you must have, you must have," Sheriff Byrd said about the decongestant. "Case in point, in May we had 52 meth cases. When the law passed, it went to 28 in July. Just this past November we only had five."

Narcotics Task Force Sergeant Jackie Trussell said the decrease in meth labs and meth arrests is encouraging. But drug agents are still on the lookout for the illegal drug.  He notes that meth cookers are now traveling to Alabama and Louisiana to buy the meth making ingredient. Those states don't have Pseudoephedrine laws.

"We have a computer system that lets us know when they are going to the different state to buy the Sudafed," Trussell said. "We set up and wait for them coming across that state line to go to wherever they are cooking, but we are seeing a lot less labs."

The drastic decrease in meth arrests is stretching over to Harrison County. The county's narcotics captain Troy Preston said the sheriff's department made 225 meth arrests this year before the pseudoephedrine law was enforced.  Since the law went into effect in July, the department has made only 28 meth related arrests.

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