Meth conversion labs cropping up around the country

The Oklahoman Editorial Modified: September 21, 2012 at 6:45 am •  Published: September 21, 2012

The meth problem, particularly in northeastern Oklahoma, led law enforcement officials this year to promote legislation requiring a prescription to obtain any medicine containing pseudoephedrine. Lawmakers ultimately rejected the proposal because it would have effectively increased the cost and time involved for many law-abiding Oklahomans to treat allergies.

We questioned if the potential crime-reducing benefit outweighed the impact on the law-abiding public. Arrests in California now indicate the prescription law would not have solved Oklahoma’s meth woes and might have even benefitted Mexican drug cartels.

The California case involved the arrest of multiple individuals and the seizure of more than 300 pounds of meth.

Most disturbingly, it revealed the extent to which drug cartels are now importing raw powdered meth from Mexico and refining it at conversion labs in the United States. Conversion labs are cropping up around the country, particularly in Texas, Georgia and California. As a result, law enforcement officials are finding far larger quantities of crystal meth.

Instead of seizing several pounds at a bust, officials are now intercepting as much as 750 pounds at a single site. Had the prescription legislation become law, Oklahoma might have experienced a decline in small meth labs and a jump in corporate-style production by organized gangs. Instead of mostly dealing with local meth cooks, Oklahoma law enforcement officials might have faced more organized crime officials.

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