Is Jefferson County Really the Meth Capital?

18 Feb

Talk to anyone in the St. Louis area about Jefferson County, and they’ll remark, “Oh, yeah, the meth capital of the US.” But do we deserve that title. As our county moves municipality by municipality to restrict access to Sudafed (requiring purchasers to have a prescription), creating a big inconvenience for law-abiding folk in order to fight meth, this question is interesting to consider.

The best evidence of this proclamation is that Missouri is the #1 state in meth lab seizures, and Jefferson County is #1 in Missouri (note: I’ve never heard the term “Metherson County”). We had 234 seizures in the first 11 months of 2011.

One can counter this by saying that number of seizures isn’t the best measurement, because a high-use county might not be as good at busting labs. Supporters of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office would say Jefferson County is first in seizures because they are good cops, but that’s what we’d expect them to say. You can find a list of meth seizures in the county here. Has there been a meth lab near you?

Who are other contenders? The Central Valley of California seems to me to be much worse off. It is reportedly “home to nearly all of the nation’s “super labs,” controlled by Mexican drug trafficking organizations.” As far as I know, we don’t have any cartel influence here (knock on wood). Also the list of chronic and horrific crimes occurring in that area, most probably meth-related, dwarfs anything we have here. This list includes manhole-cover theft (to sell the metal) and murder of children while in a psychotic haze. Of course, the Central Valley is  a much bigger area (approximately 450 miles from northwest to southeast).

Some other claimants:

  • Van Buren County, Michigan has (supposedly) long been regarded as the methamphetamine capital of the United States.
  • There’s a lively debate at this thread on the topic. El Paso is one location that is mentioned.

I think that the Central Valley is far-and-away the “winner” of this contest. It is clear, though, that Jefferson County is Missouri’s meth capital. Of course, this is a fluid issue, so a new capital could emerge. It looks like Mexico is getting into meth in a big way. For now, if someone tells me I live in the meth capital of the country, I’ll say, “Hey, were not as bad as those guys.”

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One Response to “Is Jefferson County Really the Meth Capital?”

  1. drugsandotherthings February 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    I will say there is a direct correlation between the banning of psedo-ephedrine, spurred by the Combatting Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, and the rise of the Mexican Cartels. By curtailing methamphetamine labs at home- we handed the cartels a rich new revenue stream, and the corruption and violence that goes along with it.

    Sadly- banning sales of sudafed and the like will do nothing to impact demand, and ultimately do nothing to impact supply. The best one can hope for is it will reduce the amount of toxic waste from production locally. On the flip side it will bring in more criminal elements importing meth from outside of the area.

    I really don’t care much for methamphetamine at all, but as long as there is demand, it will exist. I hope your area offers Drug Courts so users who get arrested can get treatment. Even better if there is treatment available to those who want/need it before getting ensnared in the criminal justice system.

    Good luck out there.

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