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Meth lab seizures drop in W.Va.; law enforcement reports 123 busts so far this year


CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Methamphetamine lab seizures are down 20 percent in West Virginia compared to the first six months of 2014.

So far this year, law enforcement has reported 123 meth lab seizures, a 66 percent decline since 2013, The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1GZO8RJ) reported.

Law enforcement seized a total of 313 labs in 2014, down from a peak of 513 in 2013, according to the West Virginia State Police.

Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, said the decline is due in part to many retail pharmacies no longer selling cold and allergy medications that have pseudoephedrine as their only ingredient.

Pseudoephedrine also is used to illegally manufacture methamphetamine.

Retail pharmacies also have set purchase limits on medications containing pseudoephedrine that are more restrictive than what is allowed by state law.

Figures from the tracking system NPLex show pharmacies have sold 141,000 boxes of medications containing pseudoephedrine so far this year. A total of 303,000 boxes were sold in 2014. Pseudoephedrine sales peaked at 431,000 boxes in 2013.

"The continued decline of meth lab seizures in West Virginia shows that we can make a difference and stem the tide of meth abuse and production," U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told the newspaper.

Perdue said a possible shift in law enforcement priorities could have contributed to the decline in meth lab seizures.

"There may well be law enforcement fatigue, as well as the present, needed emphasis on heroin and prescription narcotics brought into sharp focus by overdose statistics," he told the newspaper.

So far this year, the NPLEx tracking system has blocked sales of about 9,000 boxes of medication containing pseudoephedrine topeople who tried to exceed state purchase limits on the drug. Total sales of 13,960 boxes were blocked in 2014.

"Retailers and pharmacists throughout West Virginia continue to be the first line of defense against meth production, by utilizing NPLEx," Bridget Lambert, executive director of the West Virginia Retailers Association, told the newspaper.

Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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