St. Johns County Sees 'Outbreak' of Meth Labs | News
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- A home on Powell Road, nestled in the trees in St. Augustine, is the latest meth lab location in St. Johns County, according to deputies.
Busted just this weekend, it's the 17th meth lab in St. Johns County so far this year, police said, tripling the number of meth labs busted in the county during all of 2010. "It's definitely the up and coming problem," an undercover St. Johns County Sheriff's deputy said Monday.
Because he is an undercover deputy who works the meth scene, First Coast News is not identifying him.
"Two years ago, we might do one or two labs a year, and it was like that for the six years before that" he explained. "Now we get tips daily and we're almost responding weekly to labs."
The deputy called the methamphetamine growth in the county an "outbreak" and said the downturn in the economy is the reason for the increase.
"Money is not available to spend on drugs that [the users] were spending it on. Methamphetamine is cheap and readily available," he noted.
Meth is made with household items and is often made inside homes, hotel rooms, even cars. Meth labs used to take up a lot of space so they were often in rural areas, he said, but that's not the case anymore.
"Now labs are contained to areas as small as a backpack and you can walk down the road with them. You don't need space and people won't see them," the undercover deputy explained.
To combat the growing problem, the SJCSO recently printed brochures - a version to warn high schools students and another to tell realtors and landlords what to look out for in their rental properties.
While the sheriff's office has beefed-up its meth fighting efforts with more training and more equipment in the last year, the increase in meth labs doesn't just reflect better enforcement.
"The incidents are up, but we also have more people actively looking. We're trying to get ahead of the problem," said the undercover deputy.