Indiana tops national ranking for meth busts

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Indiana is facing a growing problem, with more meth labs than any other state in the nation.

It's a challenge for state police and people living near the dangerous chemicals.

"I've just got to take it down," said homeowner Jesse Steffy of his tall grasses.

But he could also be talking about the alleged meth lab police brought down just down the block.

"This is the second time this guy has been caught for that," Steffy said.

Using chemicals police say could have formed a toxic cloud or sparked an explosion.

"What gets me about it is it's so close to the school," said Steffy.

"We average between five and six a day in terms of the labs we're seizing," says Indiana State Police First Sgt. Niki Crawford.

That makes Indiana number one in the nation for meth lab seizures, almost 1800 in 2013, besting Missouri, the long-time leader, by more than half.

Everything from small backpack-based mobile meth labs to full-scale ones.

Credit good police work for making Indiana number one in seizures, plus "it also shows the kind of problem we have with addiction to meth amphetamines," said Crawford, who oversees ISP's anti-meth lab effort.

State Police say 99 percent of labs seized are run by addicts, for addicts. The so-called "Smurfs" who buy the cold medicine and other chemicals used in the labs, then often trade those for meth.

Legal limits put on pseudoephedrine purchases at the drug store may be pushing up the numbers of Smurfs involved.

"If I'm a meth cook and four years ago I had five or six Smurfs buying me chemicals and precursors, now I've got fifty," Crawford said.

To deal with the increased seizures, state police added 40 new technicians in the last five years. Now, ten percent of the force is trained to handle meth labs.

Labs are now more dangerous because the popular one-pot method uses more volatile chemicals.

"Never would have guessed it," said resident Amy of the meth arrest down the street.

She likes a nice, neat neighborhood, not one plagued by explosive meth risks.

"I'm glad they got it," she said. "Before something did happen."

To learn more about what warning signs to look for in a meth Lab or how to report one go to