Sheriff: Meth labs more problematic than in recent years

Published: Dec. 19, 2013 at 2:31 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2013 at 2:32 AM EST
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(Source: Richland County Sheriff's Department)
(Source: Richland County Sheriff's Department)

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Mobile meth lab busts have more than tripled within the last two years, according to data released by the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Leon Lott said statewide the use and manufacturing of methamphetamine is on the rise, specifically labs found in motels.

So far this year, the sheriff's department has received 23 calls of reported meth labs, 6 of which were at hotels and 3 included deputies being exposed to hazardous chemicals, Lott said.

Fifteen meth labs were reported last year in Richland County and 7 labs were reported in 2011, according to data.

"The proper clean up of these labs and dumps is not occurring and is posing additional risk to the community," Lott said. "Without proper clean up, there are residual contaminations capable of causing serious injury or death."

Lott said the department is aggressively working to stop methamphetamine use, sale and manufacturing because of the extreme dangers associated with it.

"Human exposure to the ingredients, used to create this drug, can cause severe illness or death," Lott said. "Normally, human exposure causes respiratory problems because of the acids, ammonias, lithium and ether that are used in its creation. They also pose a flammable or explosive danger."

Lott added that sometimes labs are cleaned improperly leaving behind chemicals that are extremely dangerous and due to the danger of improperly handled clean ups, the sheriff's department is working closely with the Richland County Fire Marshal's Office and Richland County Emergency Services Division.

"In an effort to raise awareness to these dangers deputies, fire marshals and emergency services personnel will begin labeling locations where clandestine meth labs have been found," Lott said.

Anyone who may see or smell a possible meth lab is asked to report it to authorities.

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