BECKLEY, W.Va. — State Police say the results of a recent targeted law enforcement effort show meth is a growing problem in parts of central and southern West Virginia.
“It’s more widespread than we thought,” said Sgt. Michael Baylous during a Friday press conference in Beckley.
Since Oct. 26 when the effort started, Baylous said more than 30 people were arrested on charges connected to meth labs and meth dumps found in Braxton, Summers, Randolph, Raleigh, Pendleton, Greenbrier and Fayette counties.
Troopers were taken from their regular duties in Troop 3 and Troop 6 to focus on the meth cases during the month. Those troopers followed up on tips from the public and informants and, according to the investigating officers, most of those charged were making meth for their personal use.
“What we’re seeing a lot of today is the one pot method. It’s simplified. All your ingredients can fit inside a bookbag,” said Trooper L.W. Price. “Generally, they’re kept in residences, the components are. However, once we started getting a lot of information, a lot of people were getting scared, putting them in bookbags and hiding them out in the woods.”
The arrests lead to 75 total felony charges. In addition to meth, troopers said heroin, marijuana and cash were also recovered.
Last year, state lawmakers passed a law to further limit purchases of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth, to try to cut down on the number of meth labs. Sales of medications containing pseudoephedrine are electronically tracked throughout West Virginia.
When the 2014 Regular Legislative Session begins in January, lawmakers are expected to take up possible legislation that would require prescriptions for those medications, though industry officials are fighting such a move.