Ohio ranks high when it comes to number of meth labs

New rankings suggest meth could be a bigger problem in Ohio than most places across the nation. Or maybe law enforcement here is just better at busting labs.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol took numbers from the National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System database maintained by the Department of Justice.

The system catalogues operational labs, chemical or equipment seizures and dumpsites.

Ohio had 1,010 reports, following Indiana (1,797), Tennessee (1,616) and Missouri (1,496).

Finding those labs is difficult. They can be as small as a 20 ounce bottle of pop and hidden in way that neighbors, even roommates, at times don't know what's happening.

It was like that for Todd Penix, living in the other half of a duplex where deputies arrested three people for making meth this morning.

"They were good neighbors, to tell you the truth, but evidently not," said Penix.

Joyce Forte, 49, Rachel Steed, 29 and Brandon Tackett, 23, are facing charges for the drug's manufacture.

"They were throwing the components into the fireplace, attempting to burn them," said Inspector Bill Holland.

"(I'm) very surprised," said Penix. "Makes you think if something like that could be happening right next door to you, and you have no idea about it."

Summit County dismantled the most meth labs of any county last year, but the Summit County Sheriff's Office says it's the method of finding the labs that put them at the top.

Holland says Ohio's fourth place spot isn't a surprise.

"Some people say, 'Well there's more meth in Summit County.' That's incorrect. We just pursue the meth cooks and meth labs more aggressively," said Holland.

Many lab busts come from neighborhood tips, says Holland. Most of the operations deputies find are single bottle, or "shake and bake."

If you see a bottle on a roadside or in your yard even without its original liquid in it, don't touch it, authorities say.

Meth byproducts often look like a reddish brown liquid with metallic flakes. Also, if you notice a smell of ammonia, let someone know. The fumes and acid are dangerous, and the combination can be explosive.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation holds more than 150 courses a year across the state to help teach these signs to the people likely to come across these labs, like nurses, social workers and park rangers.


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