In Last Three Years, PA Law Enforcement Has Uncovered 150 Meth Labs
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today announced a new effort to combat the rising prevalence of meth across Pennsylvania. In a letter, Senator Casey urged the Meth Project to bring its nationally recognized program to the state in an effort to reduce demand for and confront the rise of this dangerous drug.
The Meth Project has brought their program to several states across the country with resounding success. In each instance, the Meth Project has created a statewide affiliate to run targeted advertising campaigns that lay clear the consequences of methamphetamine abuse. With a recent spate of meth-related crime and a rising number of meth labs being uncovered, Senator Casey has asked the group to perform an analysis as the first step in bringing the group to Pennsylvania.
“Meth can tear apart entire communities, hurting families and creating serious public safety risks. Having the Meth Project come to Pennsylvania will help local law enforcement combat this epidemic,” Senator Casey said. “Just this week we saw the risks meth can pose when a lab in Stroud Township blew up; this incident underscores the need to aggressively fight the meth epidemic.”
Last week, Senator Casey secured a meth lab awareness training for Pennsylvania law enforcement officials to better equip and protect them as they investigate meth labs. The volatile chemicals used to produce meth make busting labs perilous for law enforcement and can create long-lasting contamination issues. The training, to be held at the National Counterdrug Training Center in Fort Indiantown Gap in March, will help first responders identify meth labs and safely respond to them.
Methamphetamine abuse has reached epidemic levels across the U.S. and in Pennsylvania. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, methamphetamine is one of the greatest drug threats to the nation. In 2011, the agency’s National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) in Johnstown reported meth is at its highest levels of availability, purity, and lowest cost since 2005 due to increased supply from Mexico and growing rates of small-scale domestic production. In Pennsylvania alone, law enforcement officials have uncovered over 150 meth labs in the last three years.
Methamphetamine's effects cost the U.S. between $16.2 and $48.3 billion per year. Meth is one of the most addictive substances known and its use imposes a serious burden on society through the high cost of related treatment, healthcare, and foster care services, as well as the costs of crime and lost productivity.
The Meth Project has a history of success that would help prevent Pennsylvania teens and adults from becoming addicted to meth in the first place. A 2005 campaign in Montana helped teen meth use decline by 63% over two years and meth-related crime decline by nearly the same amount over that span. In Arizona, a 2007 campaign helped reduce meth use among teens by 65%.
The full text of Casey’s letter to the Meth Project can be seen below:
The Meth Project
Dear Ms. Stagnaro,
I write in regards to the alarming spread of methamphetamine (meth) in Pennsylvania, and to request that the Meth Project support the Commonwealth to stem the growth of this dangerous drug. As you know, the consumption and production of meth have devastating impacts on the health of families, law enforcement officials, and even the local environment. Given the impressive track record of the Meth Project in reducing usage, I write to request a state profile that outlines the scope of the meth problem in Pennsylvania and suggests possible solutions to reduce meth addiction and production.
I worry that despite efforts by federal, local and state agencies, the tide of meth production and trafficking has not been stemmed in Pennsylvania. In 2009, thirty-nine meth labs were discovered in Pennsylvania. By 2010, that number rose to sixty-five and in June 2011, officials had identified fifty-six labs, setting the State on a pace to surpass the previous year. Most recently, a suspected meth lab in the basement of a Stroud Township home exploded, causing a fire and the release of toxic fumes. The 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment from the National Drug Intelligence Center noted that abuse of meth is increasing, particularly among young people who underestimate the potency and addictiveness of meth. The report also documented an increase in small-scale domestic meth production, which has proved very hazardous in Pennsylvania. Last year, a couple in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania became ill after purchasing and moving into a home that used to be a meth lab. Small-scale production, which is spreading in Pennsylvania, can create long-lasting contamination issues and incur enormous cleanup costs.
A key factor in combatting production, protecting children and reducing meth-related crime is lowering demand for the drug itself. The Meth Project’s impressive results in Montana and seven other states indicate the power of your anti-meth message to reduce youth demand for the drug. Teen meth use in Montana has declined by 63% since the implementation of your program in 2005, and adult meth use has dropped by 72%. Montana’s Meth Project has also led to a considerable reduction in meth-related crime. Across all eight states, the program has resulted in increased awareness and raised alarm among teens about the consequences of even experimenting with this highly addictive and destructive drug.
I respectfully request an analysis of the meth crisis among youth in Pennsylvania to understand how the Meth Project might both supplement and support existing state efforts. As a public official, I deeply appreciate the valuable services offered by your organization, as well as the forging of unique public-private partnerships to tackle serious public safety issues.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Robert P. Casey, Jr
United States Senator