Tulsa, Oklahoma, is officially the meth capital of the U.S. According to CNN Money, authorities identified 979 contaminated meth lab sites in Tulsa County between 2004 and 2012—more than any other county in the country. No. 2 on this list was Jefferson, Missouri, with 472 meth labs.
CNN Money sourced the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register, which “lists locations that were reported to be clandestine drug laboratories based on reports by local law enforcement agencies,” according to the site. “The labs stay on the site until local authorities contact the DEA and inform them it has been decontaminated or demolished.”
In 2012, Tulsa police discovered 274 meth labs, which was a significant decline from the previous year, when they found 429, the Tulsa World reported in December. “The majority of the labs discovered were dumped or discarded without much suspect information. In 11 reported labs, a fire was associated with the discovery. Children were found at the site of 10 discovered labs, according to police data.
“Some ZIP codes in Tulsa did not report a single meth lab this year. That was not the case in 2011, when every part of the city had at least one lab reported.”
The majority of labs found within Tulsa city limits—59 in 2012 and 80 in 2011—were found between Interstate 244 and 46th Street North and Utica and Harvard avenues, the paper reported.
“In 2007, 148 labs were found across the state of Oklahoma,” according to the World. “The relative ease and portability of the shake-and-bake method, centered around northeast Oklahoma, lead to an explosion of labs in 2008.”
A Tulsa Police Department spokesman told Fox 23 that Tulsa has seen fewer labs since the state passed a bill “cracking down on pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient to make meth also found in cold medicine”—“but it’s not enough.”
“National meth expert, Corporal Mike Griffin, with Tulsa Police Special Investigations, says the only way to get rid of meth is to get rid of pseudoephedrine and make it prescription,” the station reported.
According to a December story by The Daily O’Collegian, 916 meth labs were found in the state of Oklahoma in 2011, ranking it fifth in the country for meth lab discovery, just behind Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. And perhaps one of the reasons lab sites stay on the DEA’s register, particularly in Tulsa and Oklahoma, is because Oklahoma lacks strict regulations and oversight when it comes to the cleanup of those labs. “The state does not require decontamination businesses to be certified or experienced,” Joseph Mozzuca, operations manager for Idaho-based Meth Lab Cleanup, told the student paper.
The paper also reported that “Oklahoma does have a diclosure law, which means a property owner must inform any potential buyers if the property is for sale. However, that requirement is not extended to renters, meaning there could be hundreds living in former meth labs unknowingly.”
CNN Money, in addition to mapping the location of known meth labs, also told the story of a family who unwittingly bought a home that had once been a meth lab and the effect it had on their health and pocketbook, as well as some suggestions for how to spot a meth lab, and an insider’s look at the dirty business of cleaning one up.