Police made arrests following four separate meth raids in February in and around Sioux Falls. But despite what appears to be higher arrest numbers, they say meth arrests are holding steady with previous years.
Drug counselors say more meth users are seeking treatment, though. Police say what has changed is how people get the drug.
“We're not seeing the big labs anymore since the pseudoephedrine law went into effect, but we are seeing a lot of the one pot or pop-bottle ones come along,” Sioux Falls Police information officer Sam Clemens said.
Clemens said following law changes in 2002, most of the meth was trucked in from traditional labs. But now users have taken matters into their own hands. The small single-pot methods have been the common denominator of many of the latest area meth busts.
Clemens says police have no way to account for what seems like a dramatic rise in arrests. Many have been fairly high profile and have involved children, which heightens their severity. But the news does have more people paying attention for clues in a continuing epidemic that's now more difficult to spot.
“These smaller labs have probably been in places where people have seen them but just didn't necessarily know what they were,” Clemens said.
Meth cooking tools are relatively easy to throw away because of the single-pot method, meaning users can cook the drug in one place but discard the materials somewhere else.
Clemens says signs of a mobile meth lab include: empty pop bottles with what appears to be a tube sticking out of the top. There may also be some sort of pellet in the bottle, discarded lithium battery strips, or separated liquid in the bottle.