McMinn notes drop in meth labs - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

McMinn notes drop in meth labs

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ATHENS, McMINN COUNTY (WRCB) – The McMinn County Sheriff says stricter rules to buy cold medicine have resulted in a drastic drop in meth labs.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy released data Wednesday showing a significant decline in meth labs in McMinn County. In 2010, McMinn County led Tennessee in meth lab seizures with 161.

"Based on the numbers recorded by our office and supported by numbers in Tennessee Crime Online, it appears that during the period of January-April 2010 the McMinn County Sheriff's Office had 38 meth labs seized," said Sheriff Guy. "This year, during the same period, we've seized 18. This is a 47% decline from 2010, which is very exciting. If we continue with this success, we will cut the number of meth labs found in the county in half in 2011." Numbers for May-June are still being evaluated, although hand counts of reports indicate the same pattern.  

"We've never enjoyed being known for meth production," continued Sheriff Guy, "and it's been a black eye for our county for the past two years. One of the goals of our administration has been to find new ways to fight meth. Based on these numbers, we can put some faith in that what we are doing is working."

Guy credits the department's community drug educations efforts and the ‘100 Days of Pseudo-Free Tennessee' campaign as major factors in McMinn County's success.

"The ‘100 Days' campaign began February 23, and it seemed to bring out a lot of support among local pharmacies and drug stores. They partnered with us to limit the sales of pseudoephedrine products and reduced the amounts meth makers were able to obtain. We had a lot of public support for the initiative as well. By March, our officers noticed that meth labs were getting harder to find.

Last week, I visited every drug store in McMinn County. Almost every pharmacist I talked to reported a decline in ‘smurfers' attempting to buy pseudoephedrine. Some of the pharmacists are still requiring a prescription for the medication, which is great.  Of course, my officers and those in our area  police departments have continued to be aggressive in hunting down meth makers and disrupting their work."

"As we continue our efforts, we're starting a new initiative called NO METH IN MCMINN.  Every pharmacy I visited with agreed to continue to work with us."

"This is shaping up to be a milestone for our department and out community," added Sheriff Guy. "We are coming together in this fight and are making a difference in one of the worst drug problems that has ever affected us, and together we are wining the war on meth in McMinn County."

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