Archive for Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Fewer meth labs discovered in county

March 6, 2002

Leavenworth County is bucking a statewide trend.

The number of methamphetamine labs discovered in Kansas last year increased by 20 percent from 2000.

But in Leavenworth County, officers closed down only nine labs in 2001, compared with 21 the year before. That represents a 57 percent decrease.

"This year, we're probably even less," said Leavenworth County Undersheriff Dave Zoellner. "I'm not going to say it's because they're not there. There might not be as many. But there are meth labs out and about."

Zoellner said that meth labs discovered in the county cover a wide range. Some may be in homes, others may be in outbuildings.

"Some have been dumped in fields," he said. "We might have found one in a field, where somebody had been cooking, but we only find the remnants. It's those labs that used to be labs, those labs that might have been thrown in a ditch."

Those former labs are counted in the county's statistics on meth lab discoveries, he said.

On the state level, officials this year seized 81 labs through Feb. 13, according to the KBI. Of those, 52 were labs, while 17 were dumpsites. In another 12 instances, law enforcement officers found chemicals and glassware, but not an active lab.

Kyle Smith, KBI spokesman, said the continuing increase in meth lab discoveries in Kansas can be traced to tougher enforcement, as well as an increase in the number of labs.

"It really is two prongs," he said.

According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement officials in the state discovered these methamphetamine labs: Four in 1994; seven in 1995; 71 in 1996; 99 in 1997; 189 in 1998; 511 in 1999; 702 in 2000; and 846 in 2001.

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