Officers found nearly 2,000 pseudoephedrine pills, the key ingredient for making meth, during the latest Sioux Falls drug bust. Though authorities did not find any other meth lab components, Minnehaha County officials have made a high number of meth lab-related arrests this year.
"I was at a search warrant at a meth lab where we had a young child walking around in the fumes of this meth lab that were permeating through the entire residence. That child had to be detoxified," Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan said.
According to McGowan, we have had more than 25 meth lab busts in Minnehaha County in 2012. Some recent ones include September 26, when a Sioux Falls mobile meth lab was found in a tent camper during a routine traffic stop. They found another mobile meth lab on August 7. On August 31 authorities found a substantial amount of chemicals and 33 pots used to make meth when they searched a home. McGowan cannot recall a time where this many labs have been discovered in the county. He recalls another surge about ten years ago.
"These were very large operations with hot plate and propane tanks and anhydrous. We'd see discolorations on brass fittings," McGowan said.
Meth labs in the area are not always huge operations. McGowan says officials have prosecuted a number of cases where the meth was made in pop or Gatorade bottles.
"They've become more efficient, they've become more portable and it's more dangerous because of that," McGowan said.
Meth labs are an ongoing problem in the area, but McGowan says officials are working hard to find solutions and prosecute criminals.
"The expertise of the Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force we are identifying the cooks. With the expertise of our officers we are able to identify those portable labs and all those indications that a lab is present," McGowan said.
Even though legislation has made it more difficult for meth cooks and dealers to get their hands on pseudoephedrine, McGowan says people are still finding ways to go from store to store to buy this key ingredient for the drug.