DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Iowa Crime Lab has received a lot more drug samples to test this year than last, stretching its resources and leading to a backlog for local law enforcement agencies waiting on results.

Over 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of meth have been submitted to the lab through October, compared to 181 pounds (82 kilograms) in 2016, the Telegraph Herald reported . Heroin collections have quadrupled over last year, according to figures from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Criminalistics Laboratory.

“Drug submissions overall are up considerably, especially in this past calendar year,” said Bruce Reeve, the lab’s administrator. “It’s a little alarming.”

The causes of the big increase aren’t clear, but Reeve pointed to meth as the biggest driver. He said meth submissions outweighed marijuana in September and October. Marijuana is usually the drug with the most volume.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Department has changed its approach to drug charges because of the state lab’s backlog, according to Chief Deputy Steve Schroeder. Instead of immediately filing drug charges against a person, the sheriff’s office now waits for lab results before filing them.

“It just pushes things back on our end,” Schroeder said.

The Dubuque Drug Task Force is being more selective about sending samples in order to ease the state lab’s workload, said Dubuque Police Department Lt. Dave Haupert. The task force prioritizes submissions for cases that prosecutors are confident will proceed to trial.

“We prioritize here before we even send them down,” Haupert said.

Reeve said that the state lab will prioritize certain samples based on prosecution deadlines.


Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

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