Record meth lab busts in North Carolina


Last year authorities busted more than 560 meth labs. That is 100 more than in 2012.

NC Attorney General Roy Cooper says the increased numbers have a lot to do with the steps people go through to buy cold medicine.

Eight counties saw the most meth lab busts in 2013, including 22 in Johnston County.

While these numbers are problematic, the busts themselves are seen as a positive.

"We're prosecuting and putting meth makers in jail. Their sentences get enhanced if they have children or seniors around when they're making methamphetamine," said Cooper.

Cooper credits technology and tougher laws with helping the SBI respond to more meth labs across the state.

In 2012, authorities were able to track down 460 meth labs as opposed to 561 meth labs that were shut down in 2013.

For the most part, that is being done by using a system called Nplex to limit and track purchases of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient used in making methamphetamine.

Pseudoephedrine is legally available in cold and allergy medication, but laws passed make sure it is sold behind the pharmacy counter, and the Nplex system takes it a step further.

"It limits the amounts that people can buy, and it prevents the pharmacy or the store from selling to someone who has already hit their limit for the month," said Cooper.

It also helps officers track down people buying the drug for illegal purposes.

In 2013, Nyplex blocked more than 44,000 purchases of pseudoephedrine, which is the equivalent of approximately 280 pounds of meth.

In Cooper's mind, that justifies any hassle customers might encounter buying products containing pseudoephedrine.

"It's certainly more trouble for people, and that's a concern, but you have to look at the greater good here. These meth labs hurt communities, they hurt children, they kill people," said Cooper.

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